In recent weeks, the Obama administration unexpectedly announced it is delaying the employer mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act until 2015. The mandate — which requires mid-sized and large employers to offer health-insurance coverage to their workers — was one of the main requirements of the health-care overhaul that was set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
So what does this mean to you? Here are 5 things to know about the delayed PPACA mandate:
1. Just because it’s delayed doesn’t mean the law isn’t still on the books. It is. The penalties for employers with 50 or more employees won’t be enforced until 2015. Technically, employers with 50 employees or more are still supposed to provide coverage for full-time workers beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
2. Why the delay? Most believe it was political and that Obama wanted to postpone implementation until after mid-term elections next year. The takeaway here is that benefits managers need to keep current on the politics around the reform measure in order to be prepared to respond.
3. If you manage the benefits program for a company with 50 or more employees, use the extra time wisely to sync up with what other large employers are doing with their planning. Even though another delay could happen, for now assume that the penalty portions will be implemented following the 2014 elections, and take steps now to minimize the impact for your employer. Develop a strategy that serves your employer well whether this portion of the reform act is implemented or discarded.
4. The exchanges are still scheduled to go online Oct. 1 and the delay will definitely push more individuals into the insurance exchanges. Small businesses can use the exchanges to find coverage for themselves and their employees. With small group employers, the more information they offer their employees about the exchange the better. Remember, the only way for someone to get a premium subsidy and/or relief on out-of-pocket expenses is on the exchange. This may encourage employees to migrate to the exchange for coverage, resulting in a win/win for both the employee and the employer.
5. Many believe that the long-term goal of the health-care reform law is to move most Americans to the insurance exchanges. Right or wrong, companies should have a plan for compliance but also consider a Plan B, on the off chance the administration decides to do away with the employer-coverage requirement altogether.
Speak to a professional to determine what the best solution is for your small or large business and employees.
By Steve Chavoustie