Businesses struggling to navigate the Obama healthcare law can breathe a sigh of relief. October 1st is an important date for Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) implementation because it is when the new health insurance marketplaces will begin open enrollment. There is also a soft compliance deadline causing confusion in the business community because many fear they will be penalized for non-compliance.
On September 11, 2013 the Department of Labor addressed these concerns directly saying they will not fine employers for failing to provide this notice. This contradicts reports in the media and other places and will calm some fear of small businesses desperate to figure out how this law will affect them. The feds relaxed things the first year.
From the Department of Labor Website: (Access the site here)
“Question: Can an employer be fined for failing to provide employees with notice about the Affordable Care Act’s new Health Insurance Marketplace?
Answer: No. If your company is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (over $500,000 in revenue), it should provide a written notice to its employees about the Health Insurance Marketplace by October 1, 2013, but there is no fine or penalty under the law for failing to provide the notice.”
The notice should inform employees:
“About the Health Insurance Marketplace;
That, depending on their income and what coverage may be offered by the employer, they may be able to get lower cost private insurance in the Marketplace; and
That if they buy insurance through the Marketplace, they may lose the employer contribution (if any) to their health benefits
The U.S. Department of Labor has two model notices to help employers comply. There is one model for employers who do not offer a health plan and another model for employers who offer a health plan or some or all employees:
The model notices are also available in Spanish and MS Word format at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform/
Employers may use one of these models, as applicable, or a modified version. More compliance assistance information is available in a Technical Release issued by the US Department of Labor.”
About Exchange Notification Due October 1st (Optional)
This section requires businesses subject to the FLSA (over $500,000 in revenue) notify their employees about the exchange but according to Department of Labor guidance updated in September, 2013, they will not be penalized for failing to comply with this section according to this website. We will be sending our clients a copy of the notice, along with instructions on what you will need to do prior to October 1, 2013. Access the first form here. If you do not offer a plan send out this form to your employees.
Some may have some questions about the affordability section on this form and the answer from regulators is that if the plan is affordable to the lowest paid worker then it is affordable to the whole group. If it does not pass the affordability test then it is not affordable to the whole group. Since there are so many moving parts with the ACA they likely announced this relaxation due to general unawareness of the law which remains high according to public opinion surveys.
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