The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued model notices that employers may use to satisfy the Health Insurance Marketplace notice required beginning October 1, 2013. Because individuals must have access to private health insurance through the new Health Insurance Marketplace (also referred to as the Health Insurance Exchange) beginning in 2014, most employers must provide a written notice to all of their employees regarding the coverage options available through the Health Insurance Marketplace no later than October 1, 2013. Also on October 1, 2013, most employers must begin providing a Health Insurance Marketplace notice to each new employee within 14 days of the employee's start date.

Employers subject to the Health Insurance Exchange notice requirement are the same as those who are subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This generally includes employers that have employees who engage in interstate commerce. The FLSA also specifically applies to certain entities such as hospitals, preschools, elementary and secondary schools, institutions of higher education and government agencies. According to the FLSA rules, certain affiliates of covered employers will also be subject to the notice requirements.

According to the temporary guidance issued by the DOL on May 8, 2013, the notice may be provided by first-class mail or it may be provided electronically in a manner that satisfies the DOL's electronic disclosure safe harbor. The model notice for employers that offer a health plan to some or all employees may be obtained here. The model notice for employers that do not offer a health plan may be obtained here. The DOL has also issued a new model COBRA election notice that includes information regarding the Health Insurance Marketplace. The model COBRA election notice may be obtained here.

October will be here before you know it! Employers are encouraged to take immediate action to (1) determine whether the Health Insurance Marketplace notice requirement applies, and (2) schedule preparation of appropriate notices.