Jessica Miller-Merrell, blogging4jobs
You may have heard about this little thing called Obamacare that’s headed our way. It’s made up of about 1200 pages of law, will affect millions of people and is estimated to raise costs for employees by as much as 73 percent. So really, this is clearly minor, unless you are an employer, an employee or oh, an American.
In a survey of 4000 employers conducted by PayScale in December, companies of all sizes reported little concern about Obamacare. They all told roughly the same story, with about 75% expecting no changes in their staffing plans due to the implementation of federal healthcare law, 7% planning to cut back hours, and 14% saying they will hire fewer workers in 2013.
But should companies be more concerned? What does the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, mean and what do you need to worry about? Obamacare will essentially reform healthcare, improve access to affordable health coverage and work to guard consumers from being taken advantage of by insurance companies. When signed into law in 2010, the legislature set up deadlines that span from 2010 to 2015 in an attempt to give everyone, including employers, plenty of time to be in compliance with the new law. Check out these five deadlines that every employer needs to know about.
- Oct. 1, 2013: Open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace begins
What it means: Individuals and small businesses can find coverage under the new act beginning Oct. 1. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) in the Health Insurance Marketplace is designed especially for small businesses needing assistance with finding coverage.
- Jan. 1, 2014: Employers required to report full time equivalent (FTE) numbers to the Secretary of the Treasury
What it means: Every business will need to determine how many employees they have that qualify as FTE employees under the ACA and report that number. If your business has fewer than 50 FTE employees, you aren’t required by law to provide coverage.
- Jan. 1, 2014: Small business health insurance tax credits will increase
What it means: The ACA will implement the second phase of the tax credits established for qualified small businesses and small non-profit organizations. On Jan. 1, 2014, the credit will be increased to up to 50 percent of an employer’s contribution and up to 35 percent of a non-profit’s contributions.
- July 31, 2014: Companies must pay 2013 Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) taxes to the federal government
What it means: The ACA established a PCORI, a private, non-profit entity that will lead clinical trials and research methods. The Institute is to be funded through a trust fund largely made up of tax dollars. There will be an annual $2 fee per-covered-life assessed on private health plans. The first of these new, annual fees will be due July 31.
- Dec. 31, 2014: Companies must pay 2014 Transitional Reinsurance Program (TRP) taxes to the federal government
What it means: The TRP, set up as part of Obamacare, will help stabilize premiums in the private market in the first three years of the operating the Exchange. All self-insured group health plans, their third-party administrators and all health insurance issuers will pay taxes that will cover individuals with high medical costs. According to healthcare.gov, “Reinsurance contributions will be based on a national per capita contribution rate, which HHS will announce in the annual HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters. Under this program, reinsurance payments are similar to traditional, commercial reinsurance. Payments will be based on a portion of costs per enrollee paid once claims costs reach a certain level (attachment point) and until a payment limit (cap) is reached.”
It may seem like the next year is plenty of time to be in compliance with the new law, but time will fly! Start gathering EFT documentation, calculating your TRP and PCORI taxes and informing employees of the coming changes. When those deadlines hit, you’ll be glad you took care of these things along the way!