The Marketplace is coming, the Marketplace is coming!

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Come October some employers will have to provide a notice to employees on health care coverage options.  The notice concerns the “Health Insurance Marketplace” (the “Marketplace”) which will open on January 1, 2014.  The Marketplace will provide a single source for individuals and employees of small businesses to find health insurance coverage.  Open enrollment for Marketplace coverage begins October 1, 2013.

By law, employers are required to provide written notice to employees about the coverage options available through the Marketplace.  Generally, if an employer has one or more employees and at least $500,000 in business volume, the employer must provide the notice.  The notice must be given to each employee, regardless of whether they are enrolled in a health plan or are part or full time, but dependents are not required to receive notice whether in the employer’s health plan or eligible for coverage so long as the dependent is not also an employee.  The notice must provide general information about the Marketplace and contain other information designed to be understood by employees.

Current employees must receive the notice by October 1, 2013 and any hire on or after October 1, 2013 must receive the notice at the time of hiring.  In 2014, the notice may be provided within 14 days of hiring to be considered provided at the time of hiring.  The written requirement for the notice may be satisfied by first class mailing or by electronic means (email) provided certain requirements for electronic notice as set by the U.S. Department of Labor are met.

Model notices have been published by the U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration.  One of the models may be used, or a modified version may be used if the modified version meets certain requirements.