October 1st Deadline for Employee Healthcare Notices

red flagAlmost every business in the United States is facing an October 1, 2013 deadline for notifying all employees about the new public health insurance exchanges. The notification must go to all full-time and part-time employees, regardless of their benefits status. The notification is required even for those businesses that are not required to provide healthcare coverage!

This requirement of notification is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as “Obamacare”) and applies to all businesses regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act. This includes companies with at least one employee and with annual revenues of $500,000 or more.

The notification may be sent by first-class U.S. Mail, may be provided electronically if the requirements of the Department of Labor’s electronic disclosure safe harbor are met, or may be hand-delivered. If you choose to deliver the notification by hand you should have each employee sign a receipt so that you will have a record of delivery.

The letters must inform the employees of the existence of the public health insurance exchange and provide additional details to help them understand how the exchange could help them. The letters must also be sent to any new employees who get hired after October 1.

The notice must include:

  • The existence of the exchange
  • A description of the services provided by the exchange
  • How to contact the exchange to request assistance
  • The employee’s potential eligibility for subsidized coverage on the exchange if your company’s group health plan doesn’t provide “minimum value” (i.e., the plan’s share of the total allowed costs of benefits provided under the plan is less than 60 percent of such costs)
  • The fact that the employee may lose the employer contribution (if any) toward health insurance coverage if he or she chooses to purchase individual coverage on the exchange

The Department of Labor has created model notices for employers who provide insurance for some or all employees. Other versions are available for those employers who do not provide insurance, and for employees who are on a COBRA program.

For additional information or assistance with this issue, please contact Gray, Gray & Gray at (781) 407-0300.

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