A key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates health insurance for individuals and small businesses by January 1, 2014. Under this provision, any employee who is unable or chooses not to obtain medical insurance through his or her employer will be eligible to purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace (aka the Exchange). The Exchange will offer a choice of health plans that meet certain benefits and cost standards. Open enrollment for health insurance coverage through the Exchange begins October 1, 2013.
The ACA requires employers, whether they offer a health plan or not, to provide their employees written notice regarding their current coverage options, including information on the Exchange (state or federally facilitated health Insurance Marketplace) on or before October 1, 2013. Subsequent to October 1, 2013, employers must also communicate this information to new employees within 14 days of their hire date. Almost all employers are subject to this requirement, unlike the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions, which generally apply only to employers with at least 50 full time equivalent employees. Employers must provide these notices to all employees, regardless of their plan enrollment status or whether they are part-time or full-time employees.
The US Department of Labor has provided two model notices for employers to communicate this information; the model for employers who offer health plans can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/FLSAwithplans.pdf, and the model for employers who don’t offer a health plan can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/FLSAwithoutplans.pdf. Additional information about the Affordable Care Act can be found on the Department of Labor’s web site at www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform.
The ACA also includes information reporting requirements applicable to insurers, self-insuring employers, certain other providers of minimum essential coverage and applicable large employers, as well as Employer Shared Responsibility penalty provisions, both of which were set to take effect on January 1, 2014. Notice issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on July 2, 2013 provides transition relief for these reporting requirements and penalty provisions through the end of 2014 to allow additional time for input from reporting entities in an effort to simplify reporting, and for employers, insurers and other providers to adapt their health coverage and reporting systems. Both will be fully effective for 2015. Once information reporting rules have been issued, employers, insurers and other providers will be encouraged to voluntarily comply with the reporting provisions for 2014. This transition relief through 2014 has no effect on the effective date or application of any other Affordable Care Act provisions.
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