Health Reform: Employer Notifications Began October 1

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Guest Editorial by  By Andrew Goldberg, Managing Director, Government Relations & Outreach, American Institute of Architects.

Does the Government shutdown affect the requirement that by October 1, employers notify their employees about health insurance marketplaces under Obamacare?

No, that requirement remains in place. Starting on October 1, employers are required to notify their employees about their options under the new health care reform law.  Under the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare), companies with 50 or fewer employees will not be required to provide health insurance coverage to their staffs (and no employers will be required to provide insurance until 2015). However, virtually all businesses will be required to send notices to their employees starting Oct. 1.

According to the Department of Labor, this requirement applies to any employer covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which in general means any employer who has one of more staff and has $500,000 in annual dollar volume of business. (Does your firm meet this requirement? Find out here.)

The notice to employees must:

1. Inform the employee of the existence of health insurance marketplaces (in which they can enroll starting Oct. 1), including a description of the services provided by the marketplace and the manner in which the employee may contact the marketplace to request assistance;

2. Inform the employee that if the employer plan’s share of the total allowed costs of benefits provided under the plan is less than 60 percent of such costs, that the employee may be eligible for a federal premium tax credit if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the marketplace; and

3. Inform the employee that if he/she purchases a qualified health plan through the marketplace, the employee may lose the employer contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer, and that all or a portion of such contribution may be excludable from income for Federal income tax purposes.

The Department of Labor has provided template notices that employers can download: one for employers who offer insurance and one for employers who do not offer insurance. For more information on the notification rules, visit the Labor Department’s information page at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/tr13-02.htmlRead More.