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The federal government has launched a new one-stop Health Care Changes website to provide employers of all sizes with state-by-state information on their options and responsibilities under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA). The website is located at http://business.usa.gov/healthcare.
The site, which went live Aug. 1, 2013, connects businesses to information on tax credits and other ACA provisions from the Small Business Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department. It includes a wizard tool that is tailored to a company’s size and location.
"This latest tool will help ensure that employers of all sizes know what the Affordable Care Act means for them and have the information they need to take advantage of the new benefits and opportunities under the law," a government news release explained.
The new site is meant to complement, not replace, the government's existing HealthCare.gov website, which is a resource for consumers as well as employers. Starting Oct. 1, 2013, individuals and small businesses looking for an insurance plan should be able to shop for private health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace (a portal for state-specific health care exchanges) and the Small Business Health Options Program (the SHOP Marketplace),which can be accessed through HealthCare.gov. Individuals may be eligible for lower costs on their monthly premiums, and self-employed individuals and small businesses may be eligible for tax credits to help with the costs of coverage.
In 2014, most Americans will face a penalty if they do not obtain health care coverage that meets minimum requirements. Separate penalties affecting employers that provide no health care coverage or that offer insurance that fails to meet tests of affordability and minimum coverage—originally scheduled to take effect in 2014—have been delayed until 2015.
Beginning in 2015, if a low-income employee qualifies for a federal subsidy for exchange-provided coverage, an employer penalty will be triggered. Employers with 50 or more full-time employees or equivalents that do not offer coverageto their full-time employees face a penalty of $2,000 times the total number of full-time employees (minus the first 30) if at least one full-time employee receives a premium tax credit/subsidy to purchase coverage through a public health insurance exchange.
If employers with 50 or more full-time employees or equivalents do offer coverage to their full-time employees but the coverage is “unaffordable” to employees (9.5 percent of income or higher under the employer's least exepnsive compliant plan) or does not provide “minimum value” (the plan’s share of total cost of benefits under the plan is less than 60 percent), the employers face a penalty of $3,000 times the number of full-time employees receiving a premium tax credit/subsidy for exchange coverage (not to exceed $2,000 times the total number of full-time employees minus the first 30 employees).
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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