May 15, 2013

DOL Releases Marketplace Guidance and Model Notices – October 1 Deadline

On May 8, 2013, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued Technical Release 2013-02 (“Technical Release”), which provides temporary guidance and model notices addressing the requirement to notify employees regarding coverage available under the Health Insurance Marketplace (“Marketplace”) in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”).  The Technical Release also includes an updated model election notice to be used by group health plans for purposes of continuation coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”).

Marketplace Notices – October 1 Deadline

Under PPACA, employers are required to notify their employees regarding the coverage options available through the Marketplace.  This notice requirement applies only to employers that are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

The Technical Release includes two model notices to assist employers in satisfying the notice requirement, including:

  1. A model notice for employers who do not offer a health plan
  2. A model notice for employers who offer a health plan to some or all employees

The Technical Release clarifies that notice regarding Marketplace coverage options must be provided to each employee, regardless of whether the employee is full-time or part-time, and regardless of whether the employee is enrolled in health coverage.

Employers are required to provide the notice to each new employee at the time of hiring beginning October 1, 2013.  For 2014, if the notice is provided within 14 days of an employee’s start date, the DOL will consider the notice to have been provided at the time of hiring.  Current employees as of October 1, 2013 must be provided with the notice no later than October 1, 2013.  The notice may be provided electronically, provided that the DOL’s rules regarding electronic disclosure are satisfied.

Updated COBRA Election Notice

The Technical Release also provides an updated model COBRA election notice, which has been revised to include information to notify COBRA qualified beneficiaries regarding other available coverage options through the Marketplace.  Although employers are not required to use the updated model notice, use of the model notice (appropriately completed) will be considered by the DOL to be “good faith” compliance with the election notice requirements under COBRA.  Employers may wish to consider using the updated model notice in 2014.

The updated model COBRA election notice is available.  The DOL also released a redline document to show the revisions to the model notice, which is available.

Forr more information, please contact your SGR Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits counsel.

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