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How Do We Get Our Paperwork in Order for New Health Care Requirements?

Which standard form (if any) must employees fill out when they decline health care coverage? —Paper Weight, executive assistant, maintenance/janitorial, New Jersey

Dear Paper Weight:

There is no standard form. The only language that is “standardized” involves pretax employee contributions, wherein an employee acknowledges that his/her election is valid for an entire plan year unless there are specific changes in status. (This is defined in applicable Internal Revenue Service regulations and/or the plan’s governing documents.)

If a form is created, best practices would dictate that its language reflect an election for the entire plan year unless those specific change-in-status events occur.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the health care reform law) may result in the development of a standard opt-out form in the future. Beginning probably in 2014, certain large employers will be required to automatically enroll employees in the employer’s group health plan and give their employees the ability to opt out.

Employers will need to provide employees with notice of the automatic enrollment and instructions on how to opt out. It is possible that the federal government will develop standard notice and opt-out forms to be used for this purpose.

The requirement to automatically enroll employees (subject to opt out) will not take effect until regulations are issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. The department has indicated that it expects to issue these regulations before 2014.

Employers that sponsor group health plans will want to keep an eye out for those regulations.

SOURCE: Christopher Calvert, Sibson Consulting, New York

LEARN MORE: Group health care costs are rising as a result of new federal health care laws, a survey finds.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.