This is the fiftieth issue in our series of alerts for employers on selected topics in health care reform.  (Click here to access our general summary of health care reform and other issues in this series)  This series of Health Care Reform Management Alerts is designed to provide an in-depth analysis of certain aspects of health care reform and how it will impact your employer-sponsored plans.

The Department of Labor released a new set of Affordable Care Act FAQs on January 24, 2013, delaying the effective date for the employer exchange notice requirement and providing other useful guidance. 

Delayed Effective Date for Exchange Notice

The Affordable Care Act requires all employers who are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act to issue a notice to employees regarding the exchanges no later than March 1, 2013. (Note -- this requirement applies to employers rather than to plan sponsors, meaning it would not apply directly to multiemployer plans, but it could apply to contributing employers.)  The notice must provide:

  • A description of the state health insurance exchanges (Exchanges), including contact information for the Exchanges;
  • A statement that employees may qualify for a tax credit to help pay for Exchange coverage if the employer’s plan does not provide minimum value (i.e., if the plan’s share of benefit costs does not equal or exceed 60% of the actuarial value of coverage); and 
  • A statement regarding the financial and tax consequences of purchasing coverage through the Exchanges (i.e., that the employee will forego the employer-paid portion of the premium (if any) and tax exclusion for the employer-sponsored coverage). 

The DOL FAQs delayed the effective date of this requirement to a date at some point in the near future, likely during the late summer or early fall of 2013.  The delay serves two purposes: 

  1. It will allow the DOL more time to develop a model notice, and
  2. It will align the effective date with the first open enrollment period for the Exchanges. 

Other Useful Guidance On HRAs, Medicare Part D, Fixed Indemnity Insurance and PCORI Tax

The FAQs also included a hodgepodge of other useful guidance, as detailed below.  

Click here to view table.