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Employers struggling with the application of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) received welcome relief in July 2013 when the Treasury announced a one-year delay on implementation of the "pay or play" mandate. This mandate would have required most employers with the equivalent of at least 50 full-time employees to provide affordable, minimum value health insurance coverage to their full-time employees by Jan. 1, 2014, or pay penalties.
However, the delay on implementation of the "pay or play" mandate did not delay the individual mandate, which will require most individuals to purchase health insurance coverage in 2014, or pay a tax penalty. Treasury has also indicated that the delay in the employer mandate will not affect employees' access to the premium tax credits available under ACA exchanges beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
Many other ACA provisions also require compliance by Jan. 1, 2014, including:
First, employers should make sure their plans comply with all ACA provisions that have not been delayed. Next, employers should plan for eventual application of the pay or play mandate to their workforce. This should include:
The one-year delay also gives employers more time to see whether changes in the law may relieve them from expanding coverage to workers who average more than 30 hours per week or perform only seasonal labor. As of mid -September, at least four bills had been introduced to change the full-time employee standard to 40 hours. At this point, the chances of passage are unclear, so this will be an important issue to watch.
While the delay in the pay or play mandate gives employers additional time, the clock is ticking for many other ACA compliance efforts, and employers should be prepared and seek guidance now.
Maureen Maly is the leader of the ERISA, benefits and executive compensation group at law firm Faegre Baker Daniels. Gayle L. Skolnik is a partner of the firm and represents employers, fiduciaries and service providers with respect to all aspects of employee benefit law.
© 2013 Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. All rights reserved. Republished with permsission.This article should not be construed as legal advice.
Related SHRM Articles:
Six Steps to Prepare for the Affordable Care Act,SHRM Online Benefits, October 2013
Exchanges Launch: How Significant Was Oct. 1?,SHRM Online Benefits, October 2013
Some Employers Need to Start ACA Measurement Periods in 2013,SHRM Online Benefits, September 2013
Early Renewals Under the ACA: Right For You?,SHRM Online Benefits, September 2013
Proposed Rules on Employer-Information Reporting,SHRM Online Benefits, September 2013
Upcoming ACA Notice Requirements,SHRM Online Benefits, September 2013
SHRM Online Benefits page
SHRM OnlineHealth Care Reform Resource Page
SHRM Online Wellness Programs Resource Page
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