Employers Hold their Breath Over The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act is doing more than urging private business enterprises to make health insurance available to their salaried employees. In many instances the government is taking money from those that fail to do anything about it, in the form of fines. It is no good for businesses to bury their heads in the sand and hope the issue will go away.

At the very least they have to investigate the provisions of the Act and understand their own organisation status with regard to health insurance for their people. There is lots of information out there, from Internet seminars, through insurance company presentations and HR people need to guide the implementation of the law on behalf of their companies.

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Many a small business will be pleasantly surprised by being already compliant or by not having to do too much in order to become compliant. The new regulations are complex. Nothing out of Washington is ever simple or jargon free. But every employer needs to act now before they face possible fines for failing to meet the requirements. It affects the care home businesses more than most of course.

There are two sets of businesses are that are all set for the Act’s implementation. They are the very small and larger ones. Businesses with fewer than fifty staff are exempt from the Act. The larger businesses currently give comprehensive insurance cover as part of their remuneration packages. Thus they have avoided the early fines that are meant to be the spurs to action for all concerned.

Of course it isn’t a simple matter of counting heads. There is a formula to apply around numbers of contractual hours converting into number of ‘full-time equivalent’ employees. Herein lies the rub. For those enterprises that employ 50+ full time equivalents will pay fines if they do not offer affordable health insurance. The fines will be applied if the staff in those companies qualify for federal subsidies to fund their purchase of health coverage in the web insurance markets that will be available in the fall of this year.

The Act is complicated. Even when employers do offer health insurance, those offerings must be within financial reach (less than 9.5% of adjusted gross income) and adequate within the guidelines that the government is in the process of drawing up. Again businesses that fail to comply may be charged big time. The law was over 900 pages of government speak and most businesses are still trying to come to terms with what it all means.

Adequate health coverage is pretty broad. It talks about a ‘bronze level’. This includes such things as a doctor and hospital attention, outpatient care and prescription drugs. The final regulations are yet to be published. For the many businesses that already provide this level of cover, a final assessment against the rules may well find them outside of the penalties.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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