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.