WASHINGTON (Aug. 12, 2013) — The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that employers provide written notice of available healthcare coverage options to their employees by Oct. 1, regardless of whether the company offers healthcare coverage.
In a notice to its member companies about complying with the law, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) said newly hired employees must be notified in writing within 14 days of their date of hire after Oct. 1, and the notice may be distributed electronically.
While companies with 49 or fewer workers are not required to offer healthcare coverage, SEMA said that according to the (ACA) they are nevertheless required to provide the written notice as a means of making sure workers are aware of the option to purchase insurance through an exchange. Employers are not required to provide separate notice to dependents and other individuals who are not employees but are eligible for coverage under a company plan.
The written notice must inform the employee of the existence of the healthcare exchange marketplaces, including a description of the services provided by the exchanges and how employees can contact the exchanges to request assistance. It must also explain that if the company plan's share of the total allowed costs of benefits is less than 60 percent of total cost, the employee may be eligible for a tax credit if a plan is purchased through the exchange, SEMA said.
The notice also must state that if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through an exchange, the worker may lose the employer contribution to any health benefit plan offered by the employer.
To assist employers in providing this notice, SEMA said the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released model notices for employers that provide health plans and for those that do not offer a health plan. DOL also released a helpful guidance document further outlining employer responsibilities.