Employers have an important and far-reaching compliance deadline on the horizon. Virtually all organizations, regardless of size, are required to distribute a Notice of Exchanges and Subsidies to each employee (regardless of part-time, full-time, or health plan enrollment status) by October 1, 2013. Additionally, beginning on October 1, 2013, this notice must be provided to each new employee within 14 days of the employee’s start date. Whether or not your state has opted to set up a State Exchange, participate in a State-Federal Partnership Exchange, or default to a Federally-Run Exchange, each employer is still required to provide this notice.The U.S. Department of Labor recently published model notices for this purpose. There are two model notices available: one for employers who offer a company-sponsored health plan to some or all employees and one for organizations who do not offer a health insurance plan.The purpose of this notice is to inform employees of the existence of Health Insurance Exchanges (also called Health Insurance Marketplaces) as well as the potential federal subsidies available to them beginning in 2014. The Exchanges are government-provided virtual marketplaces intended to offer individuals and small groups a “one-stop shopping” resource in order to find and compare private health insurance options. Open enrollment for health insurance plans through these Marketplaces is scheduled to begin on October 1, 2013 and coverage is anticipated to be available beginning on January 1, 2014.
If your company has more than 50 full-time equivalent employees, it is time to carefully consider how your organization intends to comply with the Employer Mandate or whether it determines that non-compliance is the best strategic option. Whether your organization will face Employer Mandate penalties depends on whether your current plan design and employer contribution meet the minimum requirements, and whether any of your employees will be eligible for a federal premium subsidy. Your decision in this regard will affect the information contained in this notice.
Both of the model notices include a section that the employer must complete. If your company does not offer health insurance coverage, and is certain it will not be offering it in 2014 as well, it may wish to go ahead and begin distributing these notices. However, if your organization does offer health insurance, it may wish to wait until closer to the deadline for distribution, as the company may have attained more information regarding the parameters and costs of the company-sponsored health plan at that time.
Additionally, it is necessary that your organization has a resource available to answer employee questions arising from these notices.