White House Delays Employer Health Insurance Mandate

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The White House announced on July 2, 2013, that it would delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s reporting requirements applicable to large and mid-sized employers and health insurers for one year. As a result, the health insurance mandate applicable to these same employers will not be enforced until 2015. The announcement appeared in separate blog posts from the White House (www.whitehouse.gov) and the Department of the Treasury (www.treasury.gov).

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees must offer health insurance coverage to their employees by January 1, 2014, or pay fines, referred to as “shared responsibility payments.” In addition, the ACA requires that these same employers and health insurance providers comply with certain reporting requirements also by January 1, 2014. Now these requirements will not be enforced until January 1, 2015.

Proposed rules implementing these reporting provisions are expected to be published this summer. In the interim, since reporting requirements are delayed, the government can’t readily determine which employers owe shared responsibility payments for not complying with the insurance mandate, necessitating a delay in the implementation of that requirement. Important to note is that the White House announcement indicated that employers exceeding the minimum health insurance mandate may not have to fulfill some of the more detailed reporting requirements.

In an effort to encourage a smoother transition in 2015, once the proposed rules are issued, employers are encouraged to implement procedures necessary to meet the reporting requirements, and to use the extra time to adapt their current health insurance offerings to comply with the ACA insurance mandate.

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