With all of the anxiety created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and its fast-approaching Oct. 1 enrollment date, The White House has unexpectedly announced a one-year delay for all employers to provide health insurance to their employees.
This delay to the year 2015 is a major concession to the business community, and one that is necessary because it allows business owners more time to deal with the complexity of this monumental health care law.
The Affordable Care Act originally required employers with more than 50 full-time employees to offer health insurance, beginning in 2014, or face substantial fines for not doing so.
Currently, about 95 percent of businesses with 50 or more employees already cover their workers with some form of health insurance. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees will have the option of securing coverage for their workers in the new state-based exchanges.
This one-year delay is not likely to cause employers to drop employee coverage, because they want to keep, and attract, good employees, but it may potentially impact the way employers view offering insurance to spouses in the future.
Critics of the Affordable Care Act say that due to the complexity of the law, some employers may decide to just drop their health insurance coverage and pay the associated fines. Others say that it is in the business owners' best interest to attract workers by offering health insurance. Time will tell.
It should be noted that the new extension for business owners does not affect the law’s requirements that individuals must carry health insurance, or face fines for not doing so. Such enrollment for individuals begins Oct. 1, and coverage must begin by Jan. 1, 2014.
The new Affordable Care Act is extremely complex, for the individual consumer, large and small business owners, but it is the law, and it starts Jan. 1, 2014.
Before that date arrives, we encourage you to read as much as possible about the law, and how you or your business will be impacted in the future. For those not interested in reading the 2,000-page legal document passed by the U.S. Congress, we offer the following websites:
Additionally, the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce will be providing a panel of health care experts at its Business Expo Luncheon on Sept. 26. If you want to learn how you will be impacted by the Affordable Care Act, please call the Lakeshore Chamber at (219) 931-1000. You will be glad you did.