DOL Issues Final Rule on ACA Employee Coverage Waiting Period
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a final rule that implements a ban on forcing eligible workers to wait more than 90 days -- including weekends and holidays -- for their employer-sponsored insurance to take effect, Modern Healthcare's "Vital Signs" reports.
About the Rule
The rule -- which will kick in on Jan. 1, 2015 -- also sets a 1,200-hour cap on the period of time an individual is required to work before becoming eligible for employer-sponsored insurance. DOL estimates that as many as 500,000 U.S. workers will benefit from the rule annually.
According to "Vital Signs," many employers had expressed concern during a comment period that they could initiate new-employee coverage only on the first day of a month. Therefore, the new coverage would not take effect until the first day of the first month after the 90-day waiting period ends. Other employers asked the federal government to clarify that the waiting period is three calendar months, which would make it easier for participants to understand the requirement and facilitate compliance for insurers.
DOL did not address the concerns or suggestions and reaffirmed that the 90-day waiting period limit is now law. The only exception is an allowance for a "reasonable and bona fide" orientation period. Although the department did not specify its meaning, a proposed companion rule states that an orientation period cannot last for more than one month (Dickson, "Vital Signs," Modern Healthcare, 2/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.