The U.S. Department of Labor on May 8 released guidance regarding the employer notification about new coverage options through the health insurance exchange (also known as the health insurance marketplace). The guidance includes model notices for employers that provide a health plan and for those that do not, and a new deadline for distributing the notice to current and new employees.
The Department of Labor originally delayed the deadline to distribute the notice in January. Employers are required to provide the notice to each new employee at the time of hiring beginning Oct. 1, 2013. For 2014, the Department 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. With respect to employees who are current employees before Oct. 1, 2013, employers are required to provide the notice not later than Oct. 1, 2013.
The notice is required to be provided automatically, free of charge. It can be provided in writing either by first-class mail, or electronically if the department’s electronic disclosure safe harbor requirements are met.
The guidance also provides an updated model election notice for group health plans for purposes of the continuation coverage provisions under COBRA, to include additional information regarding health coverage alternatives offered through the exchange.