By Mike Gotzler and Jane Clark of QTI
As we informed WMEP guests at our first Lunch & Learns in September, many of the details of the Affordable Care Act were not provided when the Act was passed in 2010. Details about implementation, reach and scope were left to federal agencies like the Department of Labor, Department of Health & Human Services, and the Internal Revenue Service to provide. Over the past 2 years, such guidance has been trickling in at a stunningly slow pace and deadlines have been postponed. Our upcoming Lunch & Learns (May 28th & 30th) will provide updates on what has been implemented to date, look ahead to upcoming provisions, and educate you on further guidance that has been released since last Fall.
One such recent guidance we will address concerns the “Exchange Notices”. As part of the Affordable Care Act, essentially all employers must issue “Exchange Notices” to employees informing them about the existence of the State Insurance Exchange, potential insurance coverage available on Exchange, possible subsidy eligibility, and contact information. Originally, these notices were to be distributed in March, 2013, but in January of this year, the U.S. Department of Labor postponed that distribution indefinitely. On May 8th, the Department of Labor released guidance on the Exchange Notices and provided model notices for employers to distribute to all current employees and to all new hires, regardless of FT/PT status or enrollment status. The Exchange Notices must be distributed to all current employees by October 1st and to all new hires starting on October 1st. Note: Perhaps adding to the confusion, please be aware that some federal agencies have begun referring to the State Insurance Exchanges as “Marketplaces” rather than “Exchanges.”
These Exchange Notices can be customized to some extent by employers, within very strict parameters. Without doubt, the Notices will confuse and concern employees. It will be necessary to provide an explanatory employee communication to accompany the notices which will anticipate some employees concerns or questions that could arise from the notices. Will they think this means you are dropping insurance? Will they think you are directing them to the exchanges? Will they understand the notice is from you and not the government? Who will answer these questions your employees are sure to have? Do you have someone on staff who understands the notices?