Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will require a maximum 90-day waiting period for new hires to join a group medical plan. California has taken this a step further: Governor Brown signed AB 1083 into law near the end of 2012, reducing that maximum waiting period further — to 60 days. Let’s take that a step further, as the practical application for small business effectively makes the maximum waiting period one month or 30 days. Why is this? Well, currently every carrier for small groups uses a “first of the month following completion of the waiting period” as the eligibility date for a new hire.
If new employee Jane Smith begins work on March 15, 2014 and her employer has a 60-day waiting period, her effective date in the current system would be … June 1, 2014. Seventy-seven days after her date of hire, or 17 days beyond the maximum waiting period.
We expect the carriers to adapt their plan contracts upon plan renewals in 2014, to help small employers adapt to the new requirements. Kaiser Permanente officials have stated they will offer three waiting period options for plans that renew on or after January 1, 2014:
- First of the month following date of hire
- First of the month following 30-day waiting period
- NEW: Sixty days following date of hire (partial months to be prorated)
We expect other carriers to offer the same or similar options.
Many of our small group clients in competitive industries already have a first of the month following date of hire policy, but others will need to prepare and adapt.