Healthcare reform: Delay in mandates

Published 12:26 pm Thursday, July 18, 2013

Editor’s note: Robin Dixon, a benefits specialist with Main Street Financial Group Inc., will offer a column each month explaining the ins and outs of changes related to healthcare reform that citizens need to know.

Some area employers may be applauding the delay of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) employer mandate penalties to provide affordable and quality health care coverage.

As part of the legislation passed in April 2010, employers are to count heads to calculate the number of full-time equivalent employees (FTE’s). Beginning January 1, 2014 those with 50 or more FTE’s are required to offer health insurance to their full-time employees.

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While many large employers likely already offer some sort of health coverage, this mandate is especially estimated to impact mid-size businesses that previously haven’t offered coverage, and those relying largely on part-time help, such as restaurants, markets and hotels.

It is estimated that less than four percent of all businesses will be newly impacted by the need to provide health coverage.

However, some companies have been cutting hours and keeping employees below the 30 hour per week threshold, limiting their future health insurance costs by limiting the number of employees considered full-time.

On July 2, the Obama Administration announced that the enforcement of penalties for not complying with the mandate would be delayed another year, until 2015.

The delay in the penalty appears to be in response to an outcry from employers asking for more time to navigate the complex requirements and to respond in implementation.

So while the mandate for employers to provide coverage still exists in 2014, there is no penalty for not doing so.