Employers' health notification deadline Tuesday
Employers got a one-year reprieve on the Obamacare deadline to provide health coverage, but they still face a Tuesday deadline to notify employees of the new insurance exchanges.
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with at least one employee and $500,000 in annual revenues must provide employees written notice about the new health insurance marketplace. They must send the notices whether or not they offer their workers health insurance.
"In essence they deputized employers to get the word out," said Paul Essner, a partner at The Signature Group of Companies, a Garden City-based insurance, benefits and financial services firm, who's been assisting clients with the notices.
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The Affordable Care Act requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer affordable coverage to their workers or face penalties. Employers were given an extension from 2014 to 2015 to comply. But a mandate requiring individuals to have coverage by 2014 is still in place.
The exchanges were created to serve as a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health insurance. New York's exchange is called NY State of Health.
Beginning Tuesday, individuals and employers with 50 or fewer employees can compare prices and benefits on the exchange by going online, working with specially trained "navigators" or via state-certified brokers. And some small businesses with fewer than 25 employees can apply for a tax credit of up to 35 percent. For information, go to nystateofhealth.ny.gov.
The employee notices must inform workers that, depending on their income and what coverage is offered by their employer, they may be able to get lower-cost insurance on the exchange.
The notices can be sent via first-class mail or electronically, Essner said. The requirement also applies to new hires after Oct. 1.
The U.S. Department of Labor said there will be no penalties for failing to make the notification by Tuesday, but some employers say complying is the right thing to do.
"When a law's passed you should simply follow it," said Rob Basso, president of Advantage Payroll Services, a Freeport-based payroll processing and human resources provider.
He'll distribute the notice to his 40 employees before Tuesday. Basso also alerted clients about the notice.
"We have nearly 1,000 clients asking for assistance to fill out the documentation," he said.