The waiting is finally over, and the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the individual mandate and the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act is legal under the constitution.
This ruling came as a big suprise to many. Despite an early warning in our blog entitled “Want to Repeal Health Insurance Reform … Not Likely”. The majority of employee leasing companies, professional employer organizations, and small and midsized employers are just starting to learn all the aspects of the law, and understand how it pertains to their particular situation.
Kathyrn Mayer, a staff writer for BenefitsPro, www.benefitspro.com has written an excellent article to guide you through some of the changes. She quotes employee benefits specialist, Tony Tilelli, who works with the Sihle Insurance Group.
• Be aware that states currently making no attempt to implement the state exchange will get a plan administered by the federal government.
• Businesses with 50 or more employees cannot fall into the trap of thinking that on Dec. 31, 2013, they can just reduce their employee roster to 49 FTE (full time equivalent). The IRS will be watching.
• Review your health plan documents. You should have a binder containing all of the information you need to legally administer your health benefits plan, and you should thoroughly review that data to guide you in the steps you now need to take.
• Be ready for health plan audits. They will become more popular under the new law.
• Beginning in 2013, depending on the size of your group, you will be required to report the value of your employee’s health plan premium on their W2s.
• You must have your benefits summaries in all of the languages spoken by your employees. This means that if you have employees whose first language is not English, you need to provide a benefit summary in their primary language.
• Be careful of what is called work force realignment. In the past, employers have attempted to skirt compliance by reducing the hours of some illness-prone employees to part-time status. Downsizing to avoid providing benefits is a violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
• Review the cost of your health plan. Make sure you have a health plan that does not cost your employee more than 9.5 percent of his or her income.
This is only a small portion of what to expect to come from health care insurance reform. Stay tuned for more information in the weeks to follow. As always, your comments are welcome.