By Jerry Geisel for
Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business:
Newly hired employees will have to be offered health insurance coverage no later than 90 days after they begin work, under newly proposed healthcare reform law regulations.
The regulations, jointly issued in March by the Internal Revenue Service and the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, involve a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that, effective in 2014, will limit health insurance coverage waiting periods to 90 days.
Regulators noted that several commenters on previous guidance said it has been 'common practice' for coverage to become effective the first day of the month after an employee's 90-day waiting period. But regulators said 'Due to the clear text of the statute,' waiting periods may not extend beyond 90 days, with all calendar days, including weekends and holidays, counted.
In the case of where an employer imposes a 90-day waiting period and the 91st day is a weekend or holiday, the employer could make coverage prior to the 91st day for administrative ease. But coverage, regulators said, cannot be later than the 91st day.
The agencies stuck to their guns on not allowing waiting periods to exceed 90 calendar daysno exceptions for weekends or holidays, said Amy Bergner, managing director of human resources in Washington for PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P.
Such long waiting periods are relatively rare. A 2012 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that only 8 percent of newly hired employees are subject to a waiting period of at least four months.