Model Exchange Notice Available for Employers to Share with Employees

On May 8, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) issuedTechnical Release 2013-02 which provides temporary guidance for employers regarding the requirement to notify employees of coverage options available through Exchanges, also called Health Insurance Marketplaces.
This Model Notice to Employees of Coverage Options is available for employers to use today if they wish. Employers must provide notice to current employees by Oct. 1, 2013. 
There are two model notices. Both forms require the employer to enter specific information before distributing to employees.
 
       Model Notice for employers who offer a health plan
       Model Notice for employers who do not offer a health plan 
 
Employers may use one of these models, as applicable, or a modified version, provided the notice meets the content requirements. The notice must be provided in writing in a manner understood by the average employee. The notice may be provided to employees by first-class mail or electronically if in accordance with the DOL regulations. 
 
In January, the DOL delayed the deadline for employers to notify employees of the availability of Exchanges from March 1, 2013, to late summer or early fall of 2013. The DOL issued this temporary guidance and model notice in advance of the expected timeframe because it received several requests from employers for a model notice on an earlier timeframe. Employers are not required to use this temporary guidance and may wait until final guidance is issued later this year. 
 
UnitedHealthcare will not be creating a version of this notice, and employers may use the DOL version if they wish. Providing notice of coverage options is an employer obligation. Employers may want to use the Minimum Value Calculator posted on The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversightwebsite to determine if their plan meets the minimum value requirements.
 
Who Must Receive the Notice?
Employers that are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), regardless of size, funding type or if they offer health coverage today or not, must provide a notice of coverage options to each employee. Employees must receive the notice whether or not they are enrolled in a health plan today or if they are part-time or full-time. 
Employers are not required to provide a separate notice to dependents or other individuals who are or may become eligible for coverage under the plan but who are not employees. 
 
What Must the Notice Include? 
The notice to inform employees of coverage options must include information regarding the existence of an Exchange as well as contact information and description of the services it provides. The notice must include:
What is the Deadline that Employers Must Issue the Notice to Employees?
Current employees must receive the notice before Oct. 1, 2013. The notice is required to be provided automatically, free of charge. Employers are required to provide the notice to each new employee at the time of hiring beginning Oct. 1, 2013. For 2014, the DOL will consider a notice to be provided at the time of hiring if the notice is provided within 14 days of an employee’s start date.  
Model COBRA Election Notice Available
The model COBRA election notice is available in modifiable, electronic form:
 

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