On or before October 1, 2013, most employers are required to distribute a notice to their employees informing them about the new Health Care Reform Marketplace (also known as “the Exchanges”). Here are the highlights of this new requirement:

Who must provide the notice? Employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act or “FLSA”. Information on the applicability of the FLSA is available on the DOL website here.

To whom must the notice be provided? Each employee, regardless of plan enrollment status or full time/part time status.

When must the notice be provided? No later than October 1, 2013 for then-existing employees. For employees hired after October 1, 2013, within 14 days of the employee’s start date.

How must the notice be provided? Automatically, free of charge, by first class mail or through ERISA's electronic distribution safe harbor.

What are the required contents? The notice must:

  • Inform the employee of the existence of the Marketplace including a description of the services provided by the Marketplace, and the manner in which the employee may contact the Marketplace to request assistance;
  • State that if the employer plan's share of the total allowed costs of benefits provided under the plan is less than 60 percent of such costs, the employee may be eligible for a premium tax credit under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace; and
  • State that if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace, the employee may lose the employer contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer and that all or a portion of such contribution may be excludable from income for Federal income tax purposes.

Are Model Notices Available? Yes. Model notices are available on the DOL/EBSA website here, although employers may use another form so long as all content requirements are met.