An important deadline under the Affordable Care Act is rapidly approaching.  By no later than October 1, 2013, all employers must distribute a notice to all current employees to inform them of certain health coverage options under the new public exchanges.  Employers must provide this notice regardless of how many persons they employ and regardless of whether they offer employer-sponsored health coverage.  On and after October 1, employers also will have to provide these notices to new employees at the time of hiring.

Information on this requirement, including model notices, can be found on the Department of Labor’s website.  Notices must include specific information about the new public exchanges and, if the employer offers employer-sponsored health coverage, certain information about the employer’s health plan.  Although the model notices are good starting points, they are potentially confusing to employees and leave out information that may be important to employers and/or employees (such as reminding employees that the individual mandate takes effect January 1, 2014, and explaining that enrolling in employer-sponsored coverage will prevent the employee from paying individual mandate penalties).  Every employer is encouraged to evaluate whether it should modify the model notice to better fit the needs of the company and its employees.

Employers needing assistance with the preparation and content of their notices should contact their plan advisors now, due to the closeness of the deadline.