On Feb. 20, 2014, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury released final regulations on the Affordable Care Act’s 90-day waiting period limit. These regulations generally finalize provisions in proposed regulations issued in March 2013, with minimal changes. At the same time, the Departments released a separate proposed rule regarding a new provision permitting orientation periods under the 90-day waiting period limit.
Under these regulations, employers may require employees to successfully complete a reasonable and bona fide employment-based orientation period as a condition for eligibility for coverage under a plan. However, the orientation period may not exceed one month. In addition, the final regulations provide that a former employee who is rehired may be treated as newly eligible for coverage upon rehire, and may be required to satisfy the plan’s waiting period again.
The final regulations apply for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015. However, the 2013 proposed regulations provided that the 90-day waiting period limit would apply for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014. Thus, for plan years beginning in 2014, the Departments will consider compliance with either the 2013 proposed regulations or the final regulations to constitute compliance with the 90-day waiting period limit requirement.