On May 8, 2013, the Department of Labor issued temporary guidance and model notices that employers may use to inform employees of health insurance coverage options that will become available beginning January 1, 2014, through the "Health Insurance Marketplace" (sometimes referred to as the Exchange) established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA and sometimes referred to as ObamaCare).
All employers must provide notices to their employees by October 1, 2013, and notices to new employees hired after October 1, 2013, within 14 days of their start date. Unlike the shared responsibility provisions of the ACA, which apply only to employers with 50 or more full-time employees, this notice requirement applies to employers regardless of their size and whether or not they offer health insurance. A notice must be provided to each employee (full-time or part-time), even those not eligible to participate in any employer-provided plan.
The guidance includes two model notices: one for employers that offer health insurance to some or all employees, and one for employers that do not offer health insurance.
Generally, the Notice for employers with health insurance plans offers a brief description of the Marketplace, explains circumstances under which a premium tax credit might be available, and notes that purchasing insurance through the Marketplace eliminates any employer contribution or tax benefit that comes with employer-sponsored plans. The Notice also includes certain specific information about the employer's health plan, including who is eligible, and whether the plan meets the minimum value and affordability standards under ACA.
The DOL guidance also provides an updated model COBRA election notice for employees who qualify for continuation coverage. The updated COBRA notice includes additional information regarding health coverage alternatives offered through the Marketplace.