While ObamaCare hasn’t brought any sweeping changes to this years open enrollment, Business News Daily recently highlighted some of the additional requirements that business owners must be prepared to meet in 2012 and 2013. The changes over the next several years are all leading up to the big change coming in 2014, but employers will notice some additional requirements- and costs- before this time.
Changes to Open Enrollment Notice Rules in 2012
According to Business News Daily, starting in 2012, employers with more than 250 W-2 employees will be required to report to employees how much they are contributing to healthcare costs on the employees’ tax documents at the end of the year. This requirement is intended to provide employees more information on the benefits they are receiving and on what their employers’ contribution is to the cost of those benefits. This is believed to be necessary since many employees do not understand their insurance costs or their total compensation package fully.
Another change in 2012 will involve a requirement that employers provide health care summaries giving employees easy-to-understand information about health benefits. The four page summaries will need to be provided not only during open enrollment but also to new hires, eligible dependents, special enrollees and other employees upon request.
Finally, employers must provide notice of any change in benefits to all employees at least 60 days before the change takes effect. This notice must be provided in writing.
Patient-Centered Outcomes Fee
New notice requirements aren’t the only burden placed on employers by ObamaCare. Starting in September of 2012, employers that offer health care to employees will also be required to pay annual fees that fund research on patient care. The annual fees, which in 2012 and 2013 will be equal to $1 times the average number of people covered under the plan, will provide funding for research on making sure patients make informed choices. In October of 2013, the $1 fee will increase to a $2 fee.
Your Requirements This Year
While employers should begin thinking ahead to expected future requirements, the biggest chance planned for 2011 has been repealed. The original ObamaCare plan was a requirement that all business owners submit 1099 forms to any company to whom they made payments of $600 or more. This plan was repealed by Obama amid protests regarding the time and cost associated with preparing the documents.
For most employers and employees, then, this open enrollment period looks much like any other. The best way to help your employees during this period is to make sure that they make informed choices about what plans are best for them. Giving employees information on benefit calculators and providing as much information as possible about different benefits programs and options can help to encourage employees to make wise choices. When your employers feel cared about and informed, this can also boost company morale.