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
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.