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Posted: October 31, 2013

Four things to know about health care reform

Pivotal steps and good news for Colorado employers

Ryan Sarni

Many Colorado organizations breathed a sigh of relief when the announcement was made that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) employer mandate was being delayed until 2015. Specific timing for implementation of the modifications is still uncertain, but Colorado employers and their employees can expect to see a significant impact when the planned changes to the health care system take effect.

As health care reform continues to unfold, here are four things employers should start doing now to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to reform compliance.

Consider Potential New Fees
Employer Mandate
Beginning in 2015, the employer mandate will require that employers with at least 50 full-time employees provide health care coverage for substantially all full-time employees or pay a penalty.  The annual penalty for not offering coverage is $2,000 per full-time employee working at least 30 hours per week. Employers providing benefits may still be at risk for penalties depending on the cost of benefits to employees and the value of the plans offered.

Cadillac Tax

The Affordable Care Act includes a 40 percent tax on employee benefits beginning in 2018 for any health plan that exceeds $10,200 for individuals and $27,000 for families.

Determine Eligibility for Small Business Tax Credit

On average small firms pay more in health care costs than large firms – in fact, according to Mountain States Employers Council, of small businesses that do offer health care coverage, 72 percent say they struggle to afford it.  But there’s good news – under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 90,000 small businesses in Colorado could be eligible for tax credits to help make coverage for their employees more affordable.

Knowing how your business is categorized is pivotal to exploring options. A small business is defined as an employer with fewer than 25 employees, earning $50,000 or less on average. These organizations are eligible for a tax credit up to 50 percent of the premium if they provide coverage for their employees.

Be Aware of required employee notices and when they must be delivered

All employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, regardless of size, must send out a notice to all of their employees about the existence of the insurance exchanges, regardless of employee status (full-time, part-time, seasonal, benefit eligible, etc.).  This notice must have been delivered to all current employees as of October 1, 2013, and all employees starting after October 1 within fourteen days of their start date.  A model notice may be found on the Department of Labor website.

Consider Using These Tools for Colorado Businesses

Connect for Health Colorado
The Colorado Healthcare Exchange Marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado is a new non-profit entity established by a state law passed in 2011.  As an open competitive marketplace, individuals and small businesses can shop Connect for Health Colorado for health plan options.  Coloradoans can shop features that contain the same base benefits, compare cost and quality and determine their eligibility for and access new federal financial assistance based on income. The marketplace will provide small group plan options to Colorado employers with 2-50 employees. Employers with up to 100 employees will be able to use the service beginning in 2016.

Custom Health Care Reform Assessment

Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC) recently announced the launch of their Health Care Reform Assessment, which was specifically developed to help employers navigate the complex provisions of PPACA. The assessment provides a review of an organization’s workforce and health care benefits in order to analyze the impact of health care reform on the business and provide a customized checklist for implementing the necessary changes to ensure compliance.

With Colorado consumers and small businesses evaluating insurance options, it is important for employers to take advantage of the delay in implementation of some PPACA provisions. Taking these steps and beginning to prepare for impending changes early will allow employers ample time to consider all of their options. Local health care reform experts at Mountain States Employers Council offer a host of customized tools and are available to help Colorado employers address concerns specific to their organization.
 

Ryan Sarni is a labor and employment attorney at Mountain States Employers Council, Inc. (MSEC) headquartered in Denver, Colo.  MSEC provides advice, counsel, information, representation, training and education in Employee Relations, Labor Relations, Management, Human Resources, Research and Employment Law matters. Ryan’s experience advising and representing employers includes first chair representation at labor negotiations and grievance arbitrations, unemployment hearings, EEOC complaints, Wage and Hour, ADA, FMLA, OSHA, WARN, NLRB, PPACA, and other benefits issues. He can be contacted at rsarni@msec.org.

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