The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires all employers to provide notices to current employees and new hires about the Health Insurance Marketplaces and the subsidies that may be available to qualified individuals. This notice must be provided by employers to employees by October 1, 2013, regardless of whether or not the employer is offering health insurance as a benefit. For new hires, this notice must be shared within 14 days of their start date.
There is no fine or penalty for failing to provide the notice. However, you should consider how your employees can benefit from this information. Providing the marketplace notice can help answer employee questions about the marketplaces and about employee eligibility for coverage under the employer's health plan or premium tax credits for coverage in the marketplace.
There are 2 types of notices issued by the Department of Labor – a notice for employers currently offering health insurance and a notice for employers who are not currently offering health insurance. Visit the Department of Labor’s website for model language and templates.
Employers Currently Offering Health Insurance- Access the Model Language of Notice to Employees
Employers Not Currently Offering Health Insurance- Access the Model Language of Notice to Employees
Distributing the Notice
As part of the mandate, employers are required to provide notice to employees in writing and in a way that can easily be understood by the average employee. First class mail is recommended, but The Department of Labor also permits employers to distribute the notices electronically if the requirements of the Department of Labor’s electronic disclosure safe harbor at 29 CFR 2520.104b-1(c) are met.
Employers can use templates of these notices provided by the Department of Labor, or the PPACA also permits employers to put the notice in their own language. Should you choose to create your own notice, please note that it must contain the following:
- Information regarding the existence of a new Marketplace, including contact information and a description of services.
- A statement to inform the employee that he or she may be eligible for a premium tax credit if the they purchase a qualified health plan through the Marketplace and meet other eligibility requirements.
- A statement explaining that if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace, the employee may lose the employer contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer, and that all or a portion of such contribution may be excluded from income for Federal income tax purposes.
While the Department of Labor does not provide specific guidelines with respect to the way an employer should document compliance with the notice requirement, we recommend that employers retain a copy of the notice, the list of employees who received the notice, the way(s) in which the notice was distributed and the dates when it was distributed to all employees.
Employee Information and Guidance
It is likely that the employees will have questions. Preparing talking points will help ensure that there is a consistent message and you can refer employees to resources like COSE or a broker. The federal website for health care reform includes up-to-date information for individuals to help answer your employees’ questions.