What the Employer Mandate Delay Means for Small Business Owners

Date: July 05, 2013

Some small business owners can breathe a (temporary) sigh of relief. The Obama administration announced on July 2, 2013, that the “employer mandate” portion of the Affordable Care Act will be delayed until 2015. Prior to this decision, the healthcare law required businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to offer affordable health insurance for their full-time employees or pay penalties, starting on January 1, 2014. Now, these business owners will have until January 1, 2015, to comply with the law. (If you have fewer than 50 full-time employees, this delay doesn't mean much, as your business is not subject to the employer mandate.)

“In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right,” wrote Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, on the White House blog. “So in response to your concerns, we are making two changes.”

The first change involves the reporting process about each employee's access to and enrollment in health insurance. The administration plans to “re-vamp and simplify” the cumbersome reporting process and has suspended the reporting requirement for business owners in 2014.

The second change involves the penalties that were to be assessed starting in 2014. Because the reporting requirement has been suspended, the government cannot accurately assess which business are or are not complying with the requirement to offer affordable healthcare coverage to employees. Therefore, penalties cannot be fairly levied and will not be collected in 2014.

The Health Insurance Marketplace, known as state exchanges, is still on track to open on October 1, 2013. This marketplace is intended to be a hub for individuals and small business owners to shop for insurance policies.

Nearly all business owners, regardless of the size of their business, must still distribute a Notice of Exchange Coverage Options document to all employees by October 1, 2013. Employees hired after October 1, 2013, must be given this notice within 14 days of being hired. Model notices that business owners can use are posted on the US Department of Labor website.

Also not affected by this delay is the new Health Insurance Tax (HIT), which small business owners fear will result in skyrocketing health insurance premiums. The HIT is levied on insurance companies but is expected to be passed on to consumers in the fully insured marketplace, and it will still take effect in 2014.

NFIB will continue to update our timeline for implementing the Affordable Care Act as more details are solidified. You can also browse our Healthcare Resource Center for answers to your questions about the law.

Published: July 3, 2013; Updated: July 26, 2013

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