Employers Must Notify Employees About Health Insurance Information by October 1

June 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

Last month, we wrote about the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that every employer provide written notice by October 1, 2013 to every employee about options for health insurance.  In addition, after October 1, 2013, employers must provide the exchange notice to new hires within 14 days of the employee’s start date.  We also posted a link to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) model notices that employers can use as a template to craft their own letters.  To access the post, as well as the model letters, click here.

However, if you read DOL’s model notices you may agree that they are are long and wordy, and — dare we say — difficult to understand.  Simply sending this notice on your company letterhead may actually raise more questions than it answers.

For that reason, we are recommending our business clients send not only the required notice, but also include supplemental materials to educate employees about what the company is doing to support them in fulfilling ACA’s mandate that every American be covered under health insurance beginning January 1, 2014.

If you are a business owner, there are three scenarios into which your company may fall:

You offer health insurance now and will continue to do so

If you already offer a plan that complies with the requirements of ACA (or a plan that is grandfathered), then you are all set, and your employees will not need to go to the state exchange (or marketplace) for their health insurance.  Use this fact to your advantage!  Brag a little!  Boost morale by reminding your employees that the coverage you offer means they don’t have to make any changes to comply with ACA.

Not sure if the plans you offer are ACA compliant?  Give us a call.

If you have employees for whom you suspect the premiums may be in excess of 9.5% of their income, entitling them to subsidized insurance through the state exchange, counsel them privately about their options. For example, do you offer a lower-cost plan they could switch to?

You do not offer health insurance now, but you will starting January 1, 2014

If you plan to offer health insurance coverage beginning next year, you deserve to brag a little too!  Use the required notices as an opportunity to tell your employees about the important new benefit you will offer.  For our business clients who are new to providing employer-sponsored plans, Virginia Medical Plans can pay a visit to your office during which we meet with the employees as a group, and explain the ins and outs of the options available.

You do not offer health insurance now, and you don’t plan to offer insurance next year

Even if you do not and will not offer insurance, you can still use the required notices as an opportunity to demonstrate support for your employees — and brag about it!  Many companies are considering bringing in insurance brokers to help their employees understand and navigate the state exchange through which they will purchase insurance on their own.

Whatever your situation, if you are a business owner, don’t wait until the last minute to get your notices ready to be sent by October 1.  Put together a communication that not only satisfies your requirement under the law, but also provides your employees with valuable information about how you will support the transition to health care reform under the Affordable Care Act.

Give us a call if you have any questions or need assistance putting this together!  We are here to help!

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