By Jerry Geisel, Crain’s Business Insurance
Posted: January 25, 2013 – 2:00 pm ET
Federal regulators have delayed indefinitely a health care reform law requirement that employers notify employees in writing by March 1 about the availability of public health insurance exchanges.
In a set of frequently asked questions and answers jointly issued Thursday by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury, regulators said the reporting requirement will not go into effect until regulations are issued and “become applicable.”
Regulators cited several reasons for delaying the March 1 reporting requirement, including the intent to set a date that would give employers more time and to coordinate more closely with exchanges’ open enrollment.
“We are committed to a smooth implementation process including providing employers with sufficient time to comply and selecting an applicability date that ensures that employees receive the information at a meaningful time,” regulators said in the FAQs.
Regulators now expect that the notices will be distributed in late summer or fall, which would coordinate with the Oct. 1 starting date for the exchanges’ open enrollment.
Regulators also said they are considering providing “model, generic language” that employers could use.
Benefit experts welcomed the delay, which had been expected.
Employers “were concerned about this very imminent deadline. Coordinating the notice with fall open enrollment should also help employers effectively meet this notice requirement,” said Rich Stover, a principal with Buck Consultants L.L.C. in Secaucus, N.J.