The New York Times reports that the Obama administration announced on Tuesday that it would delay for one year (until 2015) the Affordable Care Act mandate that would require large employers to provide coverage for their workers or pay penalties. The delay was in response to business complaints and postponement brings the effective date beyond next year’s midterm elections.
Under the 2010 law, employers of more than 50 full-time employees were required to provide health insurance starting next year or face fines. Numerous reports had suggested that some companies with payrolls at or just over that size were complaining that they would have to cut some jobs or switch some full-time workers to part-time employment.
The change does not affect other central provisions of the law, in particular those establishing health care marketplaces in the states — known as exchanges — where individual Americans without health insurance can shop from a menu of insurance policies. Under those provisions, subsidies are available for lower-income individuals who qualify.
However, it will be difficult for officials running the exchanges to know who is entitled to subsidies if they are not able to confirm whether employers are offering insurance to their employees. Enrollment in the exchanges is to begin on October 1st, and they are to take effect on January 1st.
Much of the administration’s public effort, especially at the Department of Health and Human Services, has been directed toward spreading the word to uninsured Americans, especially younger and healthier individuals whose participation is needed to help keep down the price of premiums for everyone else. About 15 percent of Americans are uninsured, so most individuals are unaffected, at least initially.
ADVOCATE will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.
Kirk Reinitz, CPA