Preparing Your Business for 2015 ACA Deadlines
Companies should approach the Affordable Care Act with caution and thought.
Following a one-year delay in enforcement and the implementation of a transition period intended to ease employers into understanding and complying with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the so-called employer mandate became law on January 1, 2015.
Despite the fact that surveys show that employers appear to be more aware of their requirements, a recent study by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies found that almost one third reported being less than satisfied with their level of knowledge about the law.
Companies with over 100 full-time employees and/or full-time-equivalent workers (defined as those who work an average of 30 or more hours per week) now are required to offer health care coverage to their employees who qualify.
For companies with between 50 and 99 full-time employees, the delay in the implementation of the employer mandate is not automatic; employers must meet certain conditions under the so-called transition rules to be eligible.
Alternatively, companies with 25 or fewer full-time employees and whose employees meet certain wage thresholds may be eligible for certain employer incentives and tax credits.
With many companies being impacted by the recent ACA employer mandates, being aware of the policies and implementation timing is key.
“Health care cost is a top concern of middle market firms, especially as ACA mandates come to fruition. However, with the transitional periods for the employer mandate ending, ACA deadlines are now clear and businesses of any size cannot risk ignoring the coming changes and reporting requirements,” says Jeffrey Englander, GE Capital’s Senior Research Analyst for the healthcare industry.
Here’s a recap of the key 2015 ACA deadlines:
Beginning Nov. 15, 2014
Change: Small employers can now apply and determine eligibility online for healthcare coverage via the government sponsored Small Business Health Options (SHOP) online insurance exchanges (unlike 2014 when eligibility could only be determined and applications accepted via paper hardcopy only).
Beginning: January 1, 2015
Change: 2015 will mark the last year that employers with an average of between 50 and 99 full-time employees will be exempt from the ACA’s employer mandate penalties under 2015 transitional rules. However, employers with an average of between 50 and 99 full-time employees may have certain reporting requirements under the law and must make sure they know what reporting requirements apply to them in 2015, if any.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2016
Change: The ACA’s transitional rules for small and midsize employers expire and the employer healthcare mandate will apply to all employers with an average of 50 or more full-time employees. Forward-thinking small and midsize employers should begin planning for 2016 during the transitional period afforded to them in 2015.
The employer mandate requirement of the ACA finally begins to take effect over a two-year period beginning in 2015, depending on the employer's size. While some employers may be exempt from providing coverage in 2015, they may still have certain reporting requirements and must make sure that they qualify for exemption. Moreover, smaller employers with 25 or fewer full-time employees may qualify for certain types of subsidized coverage that went into effect in 2014 and should not wait to investigate these incentives due to these other deadlines.
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