DOL Update Confirms No Penalties for Non-Compliance
As part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services (HHS) is requiring that all employers distribute to their employees basic information related to the new Federally Facilitated Healthcare Exchange or Marketplace that is scheduled to be introduced on October 1, 2013. While the details of the exchanges still have yet to be released, the requirement for employers to notify their employees remains in effect.
Official rules defining compliance have not been issued. HHS, however, has issued guidelines. Here’s a net of those guidelines:
- Applies to employers that employ one or more employees and generate annual revenue of $500,000 or more.
- Employers must provide a notice of coverage options to each employee, regardless of plan enrollment status (if applicable) or of part-time or full-time status.
- The notice must include information regarding the existence of a new Marketplace and contact information and description of the services provided by a Marketplace. It must inform the employee that he/she may be eligible for a premium tax credit if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace; and inform the employee that if the employee purchases a plan via the Marketplace, they may lose the employer contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer; and, that all or a portion of such contribution may be excludable from income for Federal income tax purposes.
- Employers are required to provide the notice to ALL current employees not later than October 1, 2013. In 2014, any new employees are to be provided a notice within 14 days of an employee’s start date. It may be provided electronically.
- Model language is available on the DOL’s website. Employers may use it or a modified version, provided the notice meets the content requirements described above.
Complete details can be found on the DOL website http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/tr13-02.html
Our take on the bottom line is this: Even though details of the exchanges have not yet been released, HHS is requiring all employers to distribute by October 1, 2013 an announcement to all employees regarding the upcoming open enrollment for the Federally Facilitated Healthcare Exchange or Marketplace – regardless of each employee’s employment or plan enrollment status. However, and contrary to some of the fear mongering opportunists kicking up dust in and around the market, in a recently released FAQ the DOL clarified that while employers should provide a written notice to all employees about the Health Insurance Marketplace by October 1, 2013, there is no fine or penalty under the law for failing to provide the notice .
We will try and keep you posted on any new developments.