Among the many requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that is nipping at employers’ heels is the demand to notify all workers of their health coverage options. This must be done by Oct. 1. Yet many employers have raised questions about exactly how this is to be accomplished.
The U.S. Department of Labor has now offered more detailed guidance on this ticklish matter. In response to the sample question on an FAQ page, “Is it permissible for another entity (such as an issuer, multiemployer plan, or third-party administrator) to send the Notice of Coverage Options on behalf of an employer to satisfy the employer’s obligations under FLSA section 18B?” the DOL says:
It’s a complicated matter because surveys are showing that lots of employers have taken their eyes off this notification ball. With less than a month to get the word out – as legally required to all workers – employers are beginning to panic.
If you’re one of those employers, you can get help, the DOL says.
“An employer will have satisfied its obligation to provide the notice with respect to an individual if another party provides a timely and complete notice,” DOL states.
Then, to underscore that part about “all employees,” whether covered or not, it adds:
“An employer is not relieved of its statutory obligation to provide notice under FLSA section 18B if another entity sends the notice to only participants enrolled in the plan, if some employees are not enrolled in the plan.
“When providing notices on behalf of employers, multiemployer plans, issuers, and third-party administrators should take proper steps to ensure that a notice is provided to all employees regardless of plan enrollment, or communicate clearly to employers that the plan, issuer, or third-party administrator will provide notice only to a subset of employees (e.g., employees enrolled in the plan) and advise of the residual obligations of employers with respect to other employees (e.g., employees who are not enrolled in the plan).”
A long way of saying, you can use someone else, but make sure they don’t screw it up or you’ll answer for it.