August 28, 2013
The feeling of relief by employers when some requirements of the Affordable Care Act were postponed must have felt good, but may prove to be premature. Not all requirements under the act are postponed. The effective date for the distribution of the Notice of Coverage Options in Exchange is still October 31, 2013. So, it is high time employers geared up to fulfill the requirement, in case they have not done so already.
According to the guidance issued by the Department of Labor (DOL), employers subject to FLSA will have to provide every employee with a written notice of the coverage options available to them through the healthcare exchange marketplaces. Open enrollment for coverage through the exchanges begins on Oct 1, 2013 and becomes operational on Jan 1, 2014.
With contingent workers, it is the staffing firms that will have to meet this requirement:
- A notice must be issued to every employee – without any differentiation based on their status – such as full-time or part-time, and whether they are enrolled in a health plan or not.
- It cannot happen later than Oct 1, 2013. Note that new hires will have to be notified at the time of hire or within 14 days of an employee’s start date.
The notice must contain some mandatory information, like the existence of a health exchange marketplace, the services provided and the contact information necessary for seeking assistance from the marketplace. The notice will also have to be provided free of charge to the employees, in writing and in a language which can be understood by the average employee. Notices delivered through first-class mail or electronically will have to satisfy the requirements of DOL’s electronic disclosure safe harbor.
It should also provide detailed insight into these following aspects:
- Employees participating in a qualified health plan through the exchange may be eligible for a tax credit if their employer’s plan’s share of the total cost of providing benefits is less than 60% of such costs.
- Purchasing coverage through the Exchange may cause the employee to lose the employer contribution to his employer-sponsored health plan. In addition, all or a portion of such employer contributions may be excludable from his income.
As is usually the case, this aspect of the ACA is confusing to many. If in doubt, employers should access the DOL’s website,
Assuming that the requirements will not kick in and the deadlines set by the Affordable Care Act may either get extended, postponed or retracted may prove to be a risky approach, which could land employers in hot water for non-compliance. There is no alternative to staying on track and the time to get started is now!
The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.