Notices, Summaries, and Forms, Oh My!

One of the most challenging aspects of Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance is all the new forms, notices, and summaries required to be drafted, edited, approved, and ultimately distributed.  The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued guidance intended to assist employers in providing ACA related information to employees.  This blog entry is intended to provide readers with a “heads up” on some new and revised notice/summary changes, and deadlines, resulting from the DOL’s guidance.

Employers were initially required by the ACA to provide notices to all current and newly hired employees regarding the existence of, and access to the new health insurance exchanges (now referred to as marketplaces).  The early March 2013 original effective date was delayed, and has now been reactivated to October 1, 2013.  DOL guidance addresses which employees are entitled to the notice, the content and form of the notice (including a template available on their website –  http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/FLSAwithplans.pdf (for employers offering health insurance; and http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/FLSAwithoutplans.pdf (for employers that DO NOT offer health insurance)), and timing/delivery requirements.  Interestingly, only employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act are required to provide Exchange/Marketplace notices, although it’s likely a good idea to provide the notices to employees regardless of the FLSA.  (Note: there is an FLSA qualifying tool available to help employers understand whether they are subject to the FLSA at http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/scope/screen24.asp).

Since the availability of Exchanges/Marketplaces has an impact on both COBRA notices and ACA Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), both of these forms must be revised to include information pertaining to same.  Revised COBRA notice templates can be obtained generally through an employer’s COBRA administrator, or at the DOL website at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/cobra.html. Employers can expect to receive revised SBC’s reflecting the updated health insurance exchange/marketplace references from their insurers and plan administrators in time for 2014.

So in summary, there are three (3) documents that require distribution and/or updates:
1. New notice of the availability of Health Insurance Marketplaces (due by 10/1/2013 if subject to FLSA)
2. Modified COBRA election notices (for COBRA qualifying beneficiaries eligible for coverage beginning 1/1/2014)
3. Modified Summary of Benefits and Coverage or SBC (for eligible employees prior to enrollment in health plans beginning in 2014)

Stay tuned for updates, information, and guidance as needed!