Most small employers with less than 50 employees are not required to offer health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But all companies, regardless of size, are required to notify their employees about the Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as Health Insurance Exchange).
What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?
The Health Insurance Marketplace is a one stop shop designed to help employees find health insurance that meets their needs and budget. Even if their employer offers health insurance the employee can opt to purchase from the Health Insurance Marketplace instead. Employees may also be eligible for a new kind of tax credit that lowers their monthly premium right away.
The Health Insurance Marketplace will not start operating until the fall and the coverage they offer will not start until Jan 1st 2014, however the Department of Labor announced that notifications to employees must be provided by October 1, 2013. That’s a very short timeframe and it is still unclear how that will be enforced.
Which Employers Must Provide Notice?
The notification requirement applies to any business regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which covers all companies with at least one employee and $500,000 in annual revenue. There are no exceptions for small employers, which means nearly every company has to get the notice out to its employees. On May 8, 2013, the DOL issued Technical Release 2013-02 which provides employers with temporary guidance on the required timing and content of the notices.
The Department of Labor has posted information about the notification requirement on its website and has provided sample notices. They have samples for both employers that provide insurance and for those that do not.
Employers can download, fill out and print these notices for distribution to employees. New employees who are hired after October 1 must get this notice within 14 days.
I encourage you to visit the Department of Labor website for more information, or consult your attorney.
If I can be of any assistance, please contact my office at 281-890-2554.
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