Employers Must Comply With New DOL Notice Requirement Regarding Health Care Exchanges Under Affordable Care Act

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On May 8, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) released new guidance imposing notice requirements on employers regarding the health care exchanges that are a key element of the Affordable Care Act.  Employers must provide this notice to each employee, regardless of the employee's plan enrollment status or whether the employee is on part-time or full-time status.  Each notice must include certain information about the employer’s health coverage as well as information about the new health care exchanges, the opportunity to apply for a premium tax credit for coverage obtained on the exchanges, and the tax consequences of purchasing coverage through an exchange. The DOL has provided a model notice for employers that offer health insurance coverage and a model notice for employers that do not offer coverage.  Both model notice forms require customization before they are issued to employees. For example, employers will need to understand the eligibility provisions of their health insurance plans and whether their plans offer “minimum value” and “affordable” coverage as defined under the employer shared responsibility mandate rules (i.e., Pay or Play) before completing and distributing the notice. The notice must be provided to each new employee at the time of hire beginning October 1, 2013.  The DOL will consider a notice to be provided at the time of hire if the notice is provided within 14 days of an employee's start date. With respect to employees hired before October 1, 2013, employers are required to provide the notice by October 1, 2013.