By Tyler Mackie
If you haven’t heard by now the Obama Administration has delayed until 2015 a key part of the implementation of the Patient Protection / Affordable Care Act (PPACA) known as the Employer Mandate. This provision requires “large employers” of 50 or more employees to have coverage available to all full-time employees working 30 hours or more. The reasoning behind this delay has some speculating whether it was a political move or an economical one. The delay would push the implementation of the Employer Mandate past the 2014 mid-term elections, potentially rallying support for the law and helping to insure its full implementation. Some feel that it was due to the outcry of the millions of business owners striving to comply by the original January 2014 deadline while still unsure or uncertain of the requirements of the law. Either way it makes for an interesting twist on the still looming Individual Mandate. The Individual Mandate, which is still set to roll out this fall, requires all uninsured individuals to obtain coverage either through purchasing an individual policy (from BCBS, UHC, etc.), joining their employers group plan, or by opting for the still-yet-to-be-seen State Exchange Plans.
While the Individual Mandate is still set to take effect in just a few short months, the delay in the Employer Mandate has caused an initial “pop” of folks taking individual plans to comply with the mandate, yet without requiring their employer to obtain coverage if they are currently not offering it. This could be good news to State Exchanges and Individual plans, except for the fact that a penalty, in the form of a tax, will be enforced on someone without individual coverage. In most cases, this tax will be about a quarter of the cost of an insurance policy, leaving some the option to “opt-out.” This change leaves several questions still unanswered, such as enforcement of penalties, verification of group plan offers, and the long-term success or failure of the PPACA all together. Supporters of the Bill claim that the delay will serve as a strengthening measure, while critics of the Bill characterize this as “a slow-motion train wreck,” as stated by Senator Max Baucus, a Democratic Senator from Montana. It is my personal opinion that only time will tell.
Regardless of your political status, or the changes in the PPACA Bill, we at BCS Wealth Management encourage you to contact one of our small business advisors or insurance specialists to discuss a “game plan” for yourself or your company. To help facilitate this conversation, we are hosting FREE monthly webinars for the rest of the year to allow you access to the current changes or advancements in the bill, as well as ask your questions and get real-time answers.