ACA Marketplace Notice Forms: One “Use By” Date You Can Ignore

From filing tax returns to using up milk before it spoils, our world is full of deadlines and expiration dates. Thankfully, there’s one you don’t need to worry about (at least for now) – the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) health insurance marketplace notice.

A product of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this notice is used to inform employees that the ACA health insurance marketplace is available to them. There are two forms of this notice: one for companies that offer their own health plans to employees, and one for companies that do not offer a plan. Both of them, in their most recent iterations, have expiration dates of January 31, 2017 or February 28, 2017 (see picture above).

Given the noncompliance penalties that have been levied with some aspects of the ACA, business owners may be hesitant to use these “expired” forms. However, there is no harm in doing so, because no changes to their content have been made since the current forms were released in 2014. As a result, there will be no fines or other punitive actions taken by the DOL if a company sends this version of the form to its employees.

If you’re still leery about using the form, here’s some more reassurance; the notice itself is actually meant as a model or guideline for employers and not a required form itself. Per the DOL’s website:

“To satisfy the content requirements for FLSA section 18B, model language is available on the Department’s website There is one model for employers who do not offer a health plan and another model for employers who offer a health plan for some or all employees. Employers may use one of these models, as applicable, or a modified version, provided the notice meets the content requirements described above.”

While the DOL-issued forms show the information that must be conveyed to and collected from employees, its actual use is not required. Employers can opt to create their own notices in a format they prefer.

So, much like the canned green beans that are a month past their “Best by” date, you can safely use the current marketplace notice forms with past expiration dates. Just make sure to watch for any updated forms from the DOL – or better yet, consult an HR professional who keeps abreast of such changes.

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