Exchange Notice Deadline Postponed: Employers Need Not Furnish The Notice Of Coverage Options Available Through Exchanges By March 1, 2013

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The Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide written notice of coverage options available through an Exchange (the Exchange Notice) to each employee by March 1, 2013 and to each new employee thereafter on his or her date of hire.  Specifically, the Exchange Notice must:

  • Inform each employee of the existence of an Exchange, describe the services provided by the Exchange and explain how the employee can contact the Exchange to request assistance;
  • In certain circumstances, inform each employee that he or she may be eligible for a premium tax credit and a cost-sharing reduction if the employee purchases coverage through the Exchange; and
  • Inform the employee that if he or she purchases coverage through the Exchange, he or she will lose any employer contribution to employer-provided health benefits and that all or a portion of the employer contribution may be excludable from gross income.

With the March 1 deadline approaching rapidly and no regulations issued yet, the Department of Labor has granted an indefinite postponement of the Exchange Notice deadline.  The Labor Department instead is expected to issue guidance later this year after coordinating with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Health and Human Services.  The deadline for distribution of the Exchange Notice will be postponed to possibly late summer or early fall of 2013 in order to coordinate with the open enrollment period for Exchanges, which is scheduled to begin in October 2013.   

The Labor Department is also considering providing a model Exchange Notice or other guidance on language on which employers can rely to satisfy the Exchange Notice requirement.  The postponement was announced in a set of Frequently Asked Questions on the Affordable Care Act.