Healthcare Reform Alert: Obama Administration Suspends Deadline for Distribution of Insurance Exchange Notices to Employees
On January 24, 2013, the Obama administration issued new guidance concerning implementation of the healthcare reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Critically, the guidance suspends until further notice the March 1, 2013 deadline for nearly all employers – regardless of size – to distribute to employees certain notices of the state-based (or federal-facilitated) health insurance exchanges created under the ACA.
By way of background, the ACA amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide all new and existing employees with certain written information about healthcare coverage options and the newly constituted (or soon to be constituted) health insurance exchanges. Among other things, employers will be required to:
- provide employees with information about their local exchange, including a description of the exchange’s services and contact information;
- advise employees that they may be eligible for insurance premium or cost-sharing subsidies for qualified health plans purchased on an exchange if the employer’s health plan does not provide minimum value; and
- educate employees that the employer’s contribution for insurance coverage and its tax benefits may be lost if they elect to purchase a qualified health plan through the exchange.
According to the new guidance, the requirement to provide employees with this notice will likely not be effective until late summer or fall 2013, which coincides with the exchanges’ open enrollment periods. The U.S. Department of Labor is also considering preparing “model, generic language” for employers to utilize in order to satisfy these notice requirements.
Although the insurance exchange notice requirement is temporarily suspended, employers must remain vigilant and aware of the rapidly evolving regulatory environment and prepare for full implementation of the ACA – including the January 1, 2014, deadline for applicable large employers (i.e., employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees) to procure minimum essential health coverage for full-time employees and their dependents.
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