The health insurance Marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will open on October 1st. Most small employers (those with 50 or fewer full-time employees) are not required to offer health insurance coverage under ACA. Businesses with more than 50 full time employees have gotten a one year reprieve from the “pay or play” penalties. But all companies, regardless of size, are required to notify their employees about the Obamacare Marketplaces by October 1st.
The state and federal insurance exchanges are websites on which individuals and small businesses can shop for health plans. Though the deadline is less than a month away, many small businesses may not realize they have to notify employees of the existence of the Marketplace (aka Exchange). Many small business owners are unaware of this requirement or are under the misconception that it does not apply to them because they are too small to be governed by the health care reform law’s mandate. It is not clear how the requirement will be enforced yet, but penalties for businesses that do not comply could reach $100 per worker per day.
Some employers assume that because they are a small business who does not offer health insurance currently that the requirement does not apply to them. The Exchange notification requirement applies to any business regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which covers all companies with at least one employee and $500,000 in annual revenue.
The U.S. Department of Labor has posted information about the notification requirement on its website and has provided model notices (in both English & Spanish) to be used by both employers who offer insurance and those who do not offer insurance.
The one to three page model notices can be downloaded, filled out, and printed, either for distribution in the workplace or for mailing to employees’ homes. Employees who are hired after October 1st must be provided the notice within 14 days of their date of hire with the company. Employees must be provided the notice, regardless of their enrollment status in the group’s medical plan. The safest route is to distribute the notice via U.S. mail or follow the instructions for distributing it electronically. Currently there is no requirement that states the employer must obtain signatures from employees confirming their receipt of the notice.
Please contact our office for more information on how to ensure you business is compliant with ACA requirements in 2014.