This year, the traditional open enrollment season for health benefits coincides with the rollout of massive changes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite a one-year postponement of the ACA’s “play-or-pay” employer mandate to offer health benefits, the law still requires employers to inform employees about their coverage options by Oct. 1, 2013. That includes the ability to buy insurance through state-based exchanges.
Note: While employers don’t have to provide health benefits until 2015, the ACA requires individuals to be covered by Jan. 1, 2014. Otherwise, they must pay a penalty. Employees feel woefully unprepared to navigate health insurance complexities, several surveys say.
No penalties: Initially, there was talk that employers would be hit with $100-per-day fines for failing to deliver these notices by Oct. 1. But the U.S. Small Business Administration announced last month that “there is no fine or penalty under the law for failing to provide the notice.”
Advice: Talk to your insurance carrier or broker about how best to comply with the ACA’s notification rules.
Online resource: Access details on these notification letters on the DOL's website. For more advice, plus seven tips on improving benefits communication, read "Employers Face Oct. 1 Deadline to Explain Health Insurance Options (7 Tips to Spread the Word)."