Provide health insurance notices to employees by Oct. 1

Most small businesses--including optometric practices--are required by law to notify their employees about the new Health Insurance Marketplace by Oct. 1, 2013.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is a new system of state health insurance exchanges, authorized under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). New plans offered through the exchanges are scheduled to begin enrollment on Oct. 1.

To prepare, optometrists must provide practice employees a written notice that informs them:

  • About the Health Insurance Marketplace
  • That, depending on any coverage the practice offers, they may be able to get lower costs on private insurance in the marketplace based on their income
  • That if they buy insurance through the marketplace, they may lose the employer contribution (if any) to their health benefits

Practices must provide notices to all full-time or part-time employees, regardless of enrollment in health care plans. Practices also must give the notices to all new hires beginning Oct. 1.

Sample notices are available

The U.S. Department of Labor provides two model notices (as PDFs) that can help practices meet content requirements:

The model notices are also available in Spanish and in Microsoft Word format.

The notification requirement applies to all businesses covered under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The act basically applies to all businesses with gross revenues of $500,000 or more. The U.S. Department of Labor offers an interactive online guide to help business owners determined if they are covered under the act.

While businesses covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act are required to provide a written notice to employees about the Health Insurance Marketplace, there is no fine or penalty under federal law for failing to provide the notice, according to the Department of Labor.

For additional guidance on employee notice requirements, see the federal government's FAQs or the Department of Labor's Technical Release 2013-02.

September 18, 2013

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