The biggest changes to the U.S. health insurance system in decades continue to unfold this fall, with government-run exchanges set to begin selling health plans for 2014 to millions of individuals and small businesses Oct. 1.
The Obama Administration’s July decision to make 2014 a transition year for the law’s employer mandate and some employer reporting requirements buys larger employers some extra time to try to understand the law, refine their options, put systems into place, and get ready to comply with the employer mandate in 2015.
But the rest of the law is moving forward as scheduled. And even with some employer requirements pushed to 2015, businesses of all sizes still face immediate pressures to prepare. Here’s a look at some upcoming deadlines.
Oct. 1, 2013: Exchanges open. Government-run health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, must be up and running by Oct. 1 in all states to let individuals and small employers enroll in private health care plans for 2014. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., will operate their own exchange or partner with the federal government on an exchange. Thirty-three states, including Louisiana, have chosen to let the federal government run the exchanges in their states for 2014. Among other responsibilities, exchanges will play a central role in determining which individuals qualify for federal tax subsidies to help buy coverage through an exchange.
Oct. 1, 2013: Employee-notification rules. All employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act are required to provide written notice to employees about health care coverage options through the new health insurance marketplaces/exchanges. According to temporary guidance issued by the Dept. of Labor this spring, employers must provide notices to existing employees by Oct. 1, 2013; at the time of hire for employees hired between Oct. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2013; and within 14 days of the employee’s start date beginning in 2014. The National Restaurant Association’s Health Care Law Primer offers more details.
NRA Notification Tool available! The NRA has developed a Notification Tool that makes it simple for you to comply with the new health care law and offer additional benefits to your employees. The Notification Tool is free to Louisiana Restaurant Association members! Learn more here.
Jan. 1, 2014: Individual mandate: With limited exceptions, all Americans are required to obtain “minimum essential coverage” –through their employers, exchanges, Medicaid/Medicare or elsewhere—for themselves and their dependents or face potential tax penalties. In 2014, individuals will face a penalty of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child with a maximum of $285 or a family, or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater. Individuals will be required to state on their federal tax returns that they have health care coverage and identify the source. It’s likely that many employees will look to their employers for information about the mandate; see the NRA’s Health Care Law Primer for answers to some common employee questions.
The NRA is also urging Congress to change parts of the law, including changing the definition of full time to 40 hours a week from 30, simplifying the calculation to determine who’s a large employer, and eliminating the automatic-enrollment requirement that would force employers with more than 200 full-time employees to automatically enroll full-time employees in company health plans if employees fail to opt out by a certain date. Visit AmericaWorksHere.org/healthcare to learn what you can do to get Congress to make these changes.
The LRA has partnered with UnitedHealthcare to deliver cost-effective solutions that meet the unique needs of restaurant owners and their valued employees. Read more here.