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Most large employers plan to notify workers of health exchange options

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Most large employers plan to comply with provisions of the health care reform law that require them to inform employees of the availability of public health insurance exchanges, according to a survey by the Washington-based ERISA Industry Committee.

Ninety-four percent of employers polled said they intend to issue notices to their employees outlining the available coverage options in the public exchanges by Oct. 1, according to the committee's survey released Wednesday. Four percent of employers said they would issue the notices later this year and 2% said they were not sure when the notices would go out.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers are required to inform employees of the availability of coverage through the public exchanges by Oct. 1. However, the U.S. Labor Department clarified last week that it will not fine or penalize employers for failing to meet that deadline.

“Although companies are not subject to a fine or penalty for failing to provide the notice, our members want to ensure that they comply with the law,” Gretchen Young, the ERISA Industry Committee's senior vice president for health policy, said in a statement.

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While 92% of employers plan to use the Labor Department's model notice as the template for their communications to employees about the exchanges, just 36% said they plan to include the “optional” information regarding the department's Marketplace Employer Coverage Tool recommended in the model.

Additionally, only 20% of employers said they plan to include information regarding their employees' eligibility for coverage through the exchanges. Thirty-one percent said their notifications would specify coverage options and eligibility for dependents.

The ERISA Industry Committee's full survey of 50 large employers is available here.