As a component of PPACA, employees will be able to opt out of employer coverage and go to exchanges (or go there directly if the employer does not offer coverage). The government refers to this program as the "Health Insurance Marketplace." Open enrollment for health insurance coverage through the Marketplace begins October 1, 2013, which, in conjunction with the new Section 18B of the FLSA, requires employers to provide notices to their employees by October 1. All active employees must get this notice before 10/1, and all new hires after 10/1 the must receive it within 14 days of their hire date. This continues on then as a requirement for every new hire.
Four important documents came out. The first is the Technical Release 2013-12. It provides the DOL instructions on how has to issue the notice and what employers are subject to the notice requirement. Then there is a Model Notice for Employers Who Offer Coverage. It is distributed by employers who offer health insurance coverage or self-insured plans. Finally, there is a Model Notice for Employers Who DO NOT Offer Coverage. The purposes of these notices is to allow employees to go to the exchanges and who them what coverage their employer does and does not offer, as well as reminding employees about their insurance coverage options.
In addition to these three documents, we also get a new Model COBRA Notice that is available from the DOL’s Affordable Care Act Website. The site also includes a red-line version so you can see how the old Model COBRA notice was changed. Not to spoil it for you, but basically it just adds reference to the exchanges. This new notice should be implemented for COBRA events after October 1, 2014.
So employers should review these notices and make themselves aware of the requirements. And if you have any questions, make sure to consult with your benefit professionals to sort out the details. October 1 will be here sooner than you think.