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SUMMER 2013 - BottomLine Newsletter >
 SUMMER 2013

The Recent White House Announcement Postponing The

Obamacare Health Care Implementation Does
NOT Relieve Employers of Required Notice to Employees   

In This Issue
Health Insurance Marketplace Employee Notice
Changes in COBRA Notices




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Dear Don,
Employee Health Insurance Notice

Employers Must Act by October 1, 2013 - To give a new notice to employees about health insurance - whether you provide and pay for health benefits or not, and no matter how many employees you have.

 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  "PPACA" has imposed new obligations on employers and group health plans. One such obligation on employers is to provide a notice to all employees regarding the upcoming availability of health insurance marketplaces beginning in 2014. The U.S. Department of Labor "DOL" has recently published guidance regarding employers' compliance with this notice requirement and has also indicated that related changes to COBRA continuation coverage election notices will be needed to reflect the availability of health insurance marketplaces (exchanges).  

 

Overview of the Notice. The new Notice is intended to inform employees of health insurance coverage options and give information regarding the existence of new health insurance marketplaces, i.e., "exchanges". It also serves to ensure that employees understand the trade-off when they give up employer-provided coverage and instead choose coverage under the health insurance marketplaces (e.g., loss of the employer contribution toward the cost of health plan benefits, which is usually provided on a tax-free basis).

 

Employers Subject to the Notice Requirement.

PPACA imposed this notice requirement by creating a new section under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act "FLSA". This means YOU.

 

Who Must Receive the Notice. All current employees and new hires must receive the new Notice, regardless of whether the employee is eligible for or enrolled in the employer's group health plan. (Means whether or not you offer or pay for a health plan as well!)

 

Timing of the Notice. Employers are required to provide the new Notice to each current employee no later than October 1, 2013. Employers are required to provide the Notice to each new employee at the time of hire beginning on October 1, 2013.

 

The October 1, 2013 compliance date for the Notice coincides with open enrollment periods opening on October 1, 2013 for coverage under the health insurance marketplaces that first become available as of 1-1-14. 

 

Model Notice. To satisfy the requirement to provide this new Notice, the DOL has published model Notices. There is one model for employers who do not offer a health plan to any employees: Click here and another model for employers who offer a health plan to some/all of its employees: Click here.

 

Note: Employers must complete sections of the Notice prior to distributing it to employees, including employer contact information;  for employers that do offer a health plan to employees, information about eligibility for coverage under the health plan, and whether the health plan meets the "minimum value standard." Other information requested as part of the DOL's model for employers that offer a health plan to employees is optional (but likely must be provided to any employees who ask for it for their own applications to enroll in a health insurance marketplace plan).

 

Most employers will need help from their insurance agent or broker to complete this form - DON'T wait until September to start this process!

Changes in COBRA Notices
Employers Must Act by October 1, 2013
COBRA Election Notices - When an individual once covered by a group health plan experiences a qualifying event such as employment termination, and loses group health plan coverage, s/he may be eligible to continue group health plan coverage by enrolling in COBRA continuation coverage.

 

The long-standing rule requires group health plans to provide such individuals with an election notice describing their rights to COBRA continuation coverage and how to make an election "COBRA Election Notice".  Most plans use some form of the DOL model COBRA Election Notice to fulfill this notice requirement.

 

COBRA Election Notice - Given the introduction of the health insurance marketplaces effective for 2014, the DOL has revised its model COBRA Election Notice to incorporate information regarding options under the health insurance marketplaces. As such, employers that sponsor group health plans and who are required to provide COBRA Election Notices will want to revisit their COBRA Election Notices and make appropriate updates as necessary. See the DOL's new model: COBRA Election Notice:
Employers should implement the updated COBRA Election Notice when it first issues the health insurance marketplace Notice - on or before 10-1-13.  
Don Dressler Consulting is preparing training materials for this OSHA required GHS/Safety Data Sheet training and can help employers with this compliance.  Just contact us by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for help.
 
Sincerely,

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Don Dressler Consulting & Cal Work Safety
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