The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has brought sweeping changes throughout our country since its inception, affecting individuals and businesses alike with countless mandates, and imposing penalties and taxes for noncompliance. In 2014, individuals must secure health care coverage or face taxation. The counterpart to this provision requires employers that employ at least 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) (Applicable Large Employers)[i] to offer affordable coverage to their full-time employees or, as with the individual mandate, face a penalty.[ii] Although the employer shared responsibility mandate, found in section 4980H and its related proposed regulations (Pay or Play Mandate), has been delayed until 2015, Applicable Large Employers should waste no time and take this opportunity to carefully strategize their approach toward compliance, including (1) analyzing their employee population, (2) ensuring that coverage is affordable and provides minimum value, and (3) contemplating how and when to calculate full-time employee status, either on a monthly basis or by using the safe harbor look-back provisions (found in the proposed regulations) in which they need to set measurement periods and subsequent stability periods, and decide whether to use administrative periods.[iii] Additionally, many employers must substantially revise their eligibility criteria, amend plan documents, and update policies, procedures, handbooks and other materials to reflect the new standard for full-time eligibility and, if applicable, continuation of coverage during a subsequent stability period. With these mountainous tasks loaded upon employers, one simple question may be forgotten: “Who are my employees?”
The Department of Treasury announced late Tuesday, July 2, 2013, that it will delay penalties for large employers that do not provide health insurance coverage in 2014. The Treasury Department said that the mandate will now start in 2015.