Health care reform
Beginning in 2014, employers offering group health plans may not wait longer than 90 days to begin covering all employees eligible for benefits, if they wish to avoid penalties. New Department of Labor (DOL) temporary guidance provides, in essence, that the countdown to 90 days begins as soon as the employee is otherwise eligible for coverage.
Under Public Health Service Act section 2708, group health insurance plans beginning on or after January 1, 2014 may not impose waiting periods longer than 90 days. This provision engendered some confusion about when the 90-day period must begin and at what point employers would be liable for a penalty under “shared responsibility” provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In August 2012, the Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Health and Human Services and Treasury departments, provided temporary guidance on the subject in IRS 2012-59 and DOL Technical Release 2012-02.1 This guidance should also be considered in the context of rules for determining when an employee qualifies as a full-time employee, discussed here
These guidelines will be in effect at least through the end of 2014.