Employee Notice of Coverage Options
On July 2, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that penalties under the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions of Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) § 4980H and related reporting requirements under § 6055 and § 6056 of the Code have been delayed until 2015. IRS Notice 2013-45 provided details on this transitional relief, confirming that the relief is limited to the Employer Shared Responsibility penalty provisions and information-reporting requirements.
This transitional relief did not delay the requirement to provide notice to employees of Exchange coverage options. These notices must still be provided to all current employees by October 1, 2013.
By way of background, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), individuals will be able to enroll in state or federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace (aka “Exchange”) coverage beginning October 1, 2013, with initial coverage beginning effective January 1, 2014. The ACA requires employers to provide a notice to current employees with information regarding their coverage options, including information on the Exchange by October 1, 2013, and, thereafter, to each new employee at the time of hire, or no later than within 14 days of an employee’s start date.
As a reminder, almost all employers are subject to the notice requirement, unlike the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions, which generally apply only to employers with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees. Employers must provide these notices to all employees, regardless of their plan enrollment status or whether they are part-time or full-time. Notices are not required for dependents or other individuals who are not employees.
The notices must include specified information about the services provided by the Exchange and how to contact the Exchange; information about the employer and any employer-sponsored coverage available; and must advise the employee of information he or she will need to gather in order to apply for coverage through an Exchange. Notices must be free of charge and can be sent by first-class mail, or electronically if the U.S. Department of Labor’s electronic disclosure safe harbor rules are met.