REMINDER: Exchange Notices required by October 1, 2013

Please note this email from Strategic Wellness & Management Services, Inc. (SWIM) serves as a compliance reminder regarding the Exchange Notice Requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka “Obamacare”.

By October 1, 2013, you are required to provide notice to your employees of coverage options available through the Health Insurance Marketplace, formerly referred to as the Healthcare Exchange.

* New Hires: Employers must provide the notice to each new employee at the time of hiring beginning October 1, 2013. For 2014, the Department of Labor (DOL) will consider a notice to be provided at the time of hiring if the notice is provided within 14 days of an employee’s start date.

* Current Employees: With respect to employees who are current employees before October 1, 2013, employers are required to provide the notice no later than October 1, 2013.

For your convenience, SWIM has created four versions of the notice to help you facilitate compliance with the law. Please note that you may elect to use SWIM’s notice, the federal government’s model notice, or a modified version, provided the notice meets the content requirements. Items 13-16 on the third page of the notice are purely optional, and as such most employers are not completing this portion of the notice, leaving it as two pages total.

The links below will direct you to SWIM’s Model Notice Word documents which are based on the DOL’s technical release.

Model Exchange Notices

There are four model notices (three variations of the first) available to employers:

  1. A standard model Exchange Notice for employers who offer a health plan to some or all employees, click here.
  2. A notice for those offering coverage, but to be provided to those not eligible, click here.
  3. A notice to give to employees who are eligible, but in a probationary period, click here.
  4. A model Exchange Notice for employers who do not offer a health plan, click here.

Employers must provide a notice of coverage options to each employee, part-time or full-time, regardless of the company’s election of group health coverage, and only to COBRA participants due to a reduction in work hours. Employers are not required to provide a separate notice to dependents or other individuals who are or may become eligible for coverage under the plan but who are not employees.

Employers that decide to inform their employees about the exchanges earlier than the October 1, 2013, deadline are permitted to use the model notices and rely on the DOL’s temporary guidance, which will remain in effect until the government agency issues regulations or other guidance. According to the DOL, future directives will provide employers with adequate time to comply with additional or modified requirements.

Exchange Open Enrollment Period

The initial open enrollment for insurance exchanges begins October 1, 2013, and runs through March 31, 2014. In subsequent years, the open enrollment period will be held from October 15 through December 7.

Additional information on enrolling in the exchanges can be obtained by your employees through a SWIM consultant.

Upcoming Webinars
Finally, The US Department of Labor is hosting a ACA Compliance webinars on September 17th and 18th that may be of interest to you. Additional information is available here.