Small business owners across the country, including many family medicine practices, can breathe a sigh of relief. The Department of Labor (DOL) has posted a frequently-asked-questions document(www.dol.gov) on its website with answers to questions about employer obligations to provide employees with written notice by Oct. 1 that includes details about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces.
According to the FAQ, any company covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act should provide such information to employees by the date noted, but the DOL added, "There is no fine or penalty under the law for failing to provide the notice."
Recent media reports raised questions as to whether small businesses -- defined as those employing at least one person and earning $500,000 in annual revenue -- could face $100-per-day fines beginning Oct. 1 for failing to provide the notice to employees. Confusion about the compliance date for the employee notice arose after the ACA's employer mandate that covers all businesses with at least 50 full-time employees was delayed until 2015.
The DOL also has provided more information to business owners as to what the employee notice should include. For example, in addition to general information about the marketplace, the notice should advise employees that they may be able to buy private health insurance at a lower cost in the marketplace when compared to the insurance offered through their employer.
Businesses also should inform employees that if they buy health insurance through the marketplace, they may lose any contribution their employer makes to their individual health insurance plan.
Examples of two model notices are available online. The first notice applies to employers who offer a health plan to employees(www.dol.gov). The second model notice serves as a guide to employers who do not offer employees health insurance(www.dol.gov).
Both notices also are available in Spanish. Businesses have permission to modify any of the notices or use them as written.
Additional compliance assistance information(www.dol.gov) is available in a DOL technical release.
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