While many users of our staffing software, TempWizard, are still going through the calculations and strategic planning on how they are going to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), there is a provision that requires employers to provide notice to all employees regarding the availability of health coverage options through the state-based exchanges. Given that, even as of this writing, there is almost no firm information regarding these exchanges (recently rebranded “the Marketplace”), the Department of Labor delayed enforcement of the exchange notice provision (which was to begin on March 1, 2013).
On May 8, 2013, DOL issued temporary guidance in Technical Release 2013-02, as well as model notices so employers have some idea what to include in the notices to employees regarding coverage options through the exchanges. Employers are now required to issue exchange coverage notices no later than October 1, 2013, relying on temporary guidance issued to date. Given that many parts of PPACA are still in a state of flux, expect additional guidance and changes to the model notices. This notice must be provided to ALL employees, regardless of their full-time or part-time status irrespective if the employee participates in the employer’s group health plan. For newly hired employees after October 1, 2013—again, regardless of status—the notice must be provided within 14 days of hire.
According to the guidance issued, an exchange coverage notice must include:
• Information about the existence of the exchange and how to contact the exchange.
• A description of services provided by the exchange.
• A statement regarding eligibility for subsidized exchange coverage if the employee obtains coverage through the exchange AND the employer’s plan fails to meet a 60% (bronze) minimum value standard.
• A statement that the employee may lose any employer contribution toward the cost of employer coverage (some of which may be excluded from federal income tax under a 125 plan) if the employee obtains coverage through the exchange.
The DOL created model exchange coverage notices for:
• Employers who do not offer a health plan
• Employers who do offer a health plan
BWSI recommends that all staffing industry companies and our clients start to plan for the implementation of the notification requirement, possibly including it with an employee’s new hire packet. Given the seemingly constant pace of change regarding all things PPACA, we would probably add something in mid to late August on your PPACA implementation schedule for planning and procedures regarding the exchange notification requirement.