Affordable Care Act Provisions Delayed

The Obama Administration announced on July 2, 2013, that implementation of certain provisions found in the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) will be delayed until January 1, 2015.  Specifically, the delay affects the shared responsibility payment provisions of the employer mandate. Prior to this announcement, employers with more than 50 full-time employees would have been exposed to a penalty for not offering health insurance to their full-time employees beginning January 1, 2014.  In plain English, the penalties (shared responsibility payment) for failing to provide health insurance coverage have been delayed by one year.

The Administration explained that this delay was to allow employers, insurers, and other affected parties time to comply with the reporting requirements of the law.  In its published release, the U.S. Department of Treasury went on to encourage employers to voluntarily implement information reporting in 2014 even though it will not be enforced.  To view the full text of the publication on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website, please click here.

At this time, there are many unanswered questions.  However, even if there is a delay in the enforcement of the penalties until 2015, testing periods for plan years beginning January 1, 2015, will start on October 15, 2013, if employers want a 12 month measurement period.  The Administration is delaying the penalty provisions because employers did not have enough time in 2013 to implement these testing periods, among other things.  It is critical that employers use this delay to their advantage and begin testing employee hours at the earliest date of October 15, 2013, depending on plan year and management decisions.

In addition, based on the information presently available, we have seen nothing to suggest that other reporting requirements, scheduled for 2014 implementation, are being delayed.  One such requirement is the disclosure to employees concerning their coverage options within the state run exchanges.  The state health insurance exchanges are required to be operational by October 1, 2013, regardless of whether the exchange is operated by the state or federal government.  One of the requirements that must be met is the distribution of information by employers to employees, regardless of the number of employees, concerning the new health insurance exchanges.  As an employer, this information must be given to all of your employees no later than October 1, 2013, the same day the health insurance exchanges are set to open.   There is an additional requirement if your business address is in a county in which 10% or more of the population is only literate in a non-English language.  If you meet this requirement, you must provide the material in their native language.   Templates for this information are available below along with a link to the Department of Labor’s website.

We will continue to update you on new developments as they occur.

Templates Regarding Required Information to be Disclosed to Employees Regarding State Run Health Exchanges:

Notice to Employees of Coverage Options

Department of Labor Website