Most employers must provide written notice of the new federal and state health insurance exchanges (now referred to as the "Health Insurance Marketplace" or "Marketplace") to employees by October 1, 2013. This notice also must be provided to new employees hired after October 1, 2013, within 14 days of their start date.
The notice must:
- inform employees about the Marketplace;
- state that, depending on their income and what coverage may be offered by the employer, employees may be able to get lower cost private insurance in the Marketplace; and
- state that, if the employee buys insurance through the Marketplace, he may lose the employer contribution (if any) to his health benefits.
The DOL provided two model notices to assist employers in providing the required information: one for employers who offer a health plan to some or all employees and one for employers who do not offer a health plan. Employers may use one of these models, as applicable, or a modified version. The model notices are also available in Spanish and MS Word format at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform/.
The notice may be delivered by hand or first class mail. The notice may be delivered by e-mail if:
- The employee can effectively access e-mail and e-mail attachments at any location where the employee is reasonably expected to perform duties as an employee, and access to the employer's e-mail system is necessary for the performance of the duties, such as to receive work-related announcements or information; or
- the employee consents to delivery by e-mail.
There is no specific fine or penalty under the law for failing to provide the notice, but there could be adverse consequences for not doing so. Officials at the Department of Labor have cautioned that they may view the notice as a required disclosure about the employer's health plan, which could trigger audit or other enforcement activity, and employee claims are also possible.