Small business owners may have sighed a breath of relief when the Obama administration delayed implementation of the employer mandate, which states that employers with 50 or more full-time workers would have to offer health insurance or pay a penalty. The healthcare law originally required employers with 50 or more employees to offer affordable coverage beginning in 2014.
However, the administration has twice modified dates for compliance. Employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees do not have to offer insurance to employees. Employers with 50-99 employees will not have to offer insurance or pay a tax until 2016, two years longer than originally envisioned. Businesses with 100 or more employees must offer coverage to at least 70% of full-time employees or pay a penalty in 2015.
Even though small businesses employing fewer than 50 employees are not required to offer insurance to employees, employers and individuals should know that the individual health care mandate is still in effect. This means that individuals must obtain health care coverage in 2014, even if their employer does not offer coverage, or the individual could face a federal tax penalty.
If individuals do not select a health plan by March 31st, they will not be able to enroll in coverage until 2015 unless they meet very limited requirements such as getting married or divorced, gaining a dependent or losing their current health insurance coverage. Individuals can purchase health insurance through the New York State of Health insurance marketplace and may be eligible for tax credits depending on income.