Employers have until October 1, 2013, to provide notice to current employees of coverage options available through the Health Insurance Marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act. On May 8, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued Technical Release 2013-02, providing temporary guidance on the notice to employees of coverage options available through the Marketplace. The notice requirement generally applies to employers with one or more employees and at least $500,000 in annual revenue but also specifically applies to certain health care entities, schools, and government agencies.

Following are the key requirements of the written notice:

  • By October 1, 2013, the notice must be provided to all current employees.
  • Beginning October 1, 2013, it must also be provided to each new employee within 14 days of the start date.
  • The notice must inform the employee of the existence of the Marketplace and contain a description of the services available and how to contact the Marketplace.
  • It must state that the employee may be eligible for a premium tax credit for coverage purchased through the Marketplace if the employer’s plan does not provide “minimum value.”
  • It must also note that the employee may lose the employer contribution to the employer-sponsored plan if the employee obtains coverage through the Marketplace, and that such employer contribution is typically excludible from income for Federal income for tax purposes.

The DOL has issued model notices for employers who offer a health plan and for employers who do not. The model notices are divided into parts A, general information, and B, plan-specific information. Employers are not required to use the model notices, but if used they will satisfy the requirements.

Technical Release 2013-02 also provides updated guidance for the model COBRA election notice. Group health plans generally must provide an election notice describing rights to continuation coverage and how to make an election. The new notice updates the prior one issued by the DOL to change and add information as it relates to the Marketplace and requirements under the Affordable Care Act.