In 2014, millions of employees will have access to conceivably lower-cost health insurance through state-wide “marketplaces.” These health insurance marketplaces are being created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ‘Obamacare’, which President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010. If you are an employee and don’t know about it, well, you probably will soon. Starting on October 1, 2013, any employer covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, the minimum wage and overtime wage law, will be mandated to provide all existing employees with notices about these new marketplaces. Department of Labor, Technical No. 2013-02 (May 8, 2013). Starting then, notices must be provided to all new hires.
The Department of Labor has issued temporary guidance for employers and released model notices for distribution. Technical No. 2013-02. The Model Notices provide just basic information, and are not intended to be used beyond November 30 this year. The notices will be issued by employers that do offer health insurance as well as by those that do not. See Model Notices OMB 1210-0149. Part-time and full-time employees will receive these notices. Technical No. 2013-02.
The marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act cannot be easily summed up. States participate in creating them. For instance, Maryland already has named its marketplace Maryland Health Connection. Marketplaces will begin to fully function in 2014.
Two key points: Any employee can use these marketplaces, including those employees who just want to comparison shop. Part-time employees and lower-income employees may benefit most. A new tax credit applied to discount health insurance premiums, applied as premiums come due, will help lower-income working families obtain discounted health insurance coverage, according to the U.S. government Web site dedicated to the Act, Healthcare.gov.
If you want to get a jump on these marketplace notices, you can begin with Healthcare.gov. Employment laws sometimes change. Right now, health care is one employment area set to change in 2014. Keep your eye on the ball and we’ll keep our eyes on the law.