Health care reform
One of health care reform’s centerpiece elements — the Health Insurance Exchanges — will open for business on October 1. The government has released initial versions of the forms that people will use to apply for exchange-based coverage, as well as templates employers can use to communicate with employees about the exchanges.
Open enrollment for 2014 coverage through the Health Insurance Exchanges begins October 1. And the application forms for individuals and families are now available. Both forms can be found on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website under Marketplace Consumer Application.
The individual application is much shorter than anticipated. What was originally reported to be 21 pages has been shortened to just 3. The family application is 7 pages, although appendices and instructions bring the page total to 12.
The forms request information about income, number of household members, employment status, student loan obligations, disability and citizenship. The applications are not finalized, as evidenced by missing telephone numbers in the “Need Help with this Application?” section, and some website addresses are currently generic placeholders. However, they do include a mailing address where people without questions can send in their applications.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires that employers inform their employees in writing about the new Health Insurance Exchanges and how the exchanges relate to their workplace benefits. The original guidance had required that employers notify employees by March 1, 2013, and that new employees receive the notice when they are hired. However, given the slower-than-expected progress of exchange implementation, the Department of Labor (DOL) delayed this notification date. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced that employers have until October 1, 2013 to provide notification.
DOL has now posted a sample notice, which will be an important resource for employers. While it’s not final, the form is a useful example of what employers will be expected to share with their employees. DOL also has released a form for employers who do not offer coverage. In late June, the DOL released model notices in Spanish:
Employers can begin using these forms now, or create a modified version, as long as the notice meets the content requirements outlined by DOL. According to these requirements, the Health Insurance Exchange notification must: