Obamacare Will Be The Top Employer Issue in 2014

The uncertainty surrounding The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will create unmeasurable stress and confusion for employers in 2014.  The employer mandate was delayed to January 1, 2015, but that delay has done nothing to answer the questions employers have.


A few Quick Facts on Obamacare for Employers:

Nothing in the Affordable Care Act says that employers have to cover part-time workers. The law defines part time as someone who works less than 30 hours a week.  Some in Congress are trying to change this 30 hour rule in 2014; with hopes of raising it to 40, the best they can probably hope for is a compromise at 35 hours per week.

If your business has 50 or more employees, you are considered a “large business” under the health care law.  Large businesses must provide health insurance to their employees or face penalties.

If you have more than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, you generally won’t be able to use the SHOP Marketplace to offer health insurance to them.  Starting in 2016, all SHOPs will be open to employers with up to 100 FTEs.

If an employee’s share of the premium costs for employee-only coverage is more than 9.5% of their yearly household income, the coverage is not considered affordable.  Since you typically won’t know your employee’s household income, you can generally avoid a Shared Responsibility Payment for an employee if the employee’s share of the premium for employee-only coverage doesn’t exceed 9.5% of their wages for that year as reported on the employee’s W-2 form.

The Affordable Care Act established a rule that prohibits what it calls “excessive waiting periods” for insurance coverage. The rule, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, says that insurance companies and employers that offer group health plans cannot make eligible individuals wait more than 90 days to get health coverage. It applies to both grandfathered and non-grandfathered plans, meaning that your company must comply even if your group policy has been in place for a number of years and is not changing otherwise.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will render a decision regarding the ACA birth control mandate. This will be an important decision for employers that object to ACA provisions requiring all companies to cover certain reproductive health services without a co-pay. The Supreme Court expects to hand down its ruling sometime in June 2014.

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