PPACA ALERT: Change in Employer Mandate Affects All Employers in 2015

There has just been another PPACA delay to the employer mandate (also known as the “pay or play” mandate) that was slated to begin on January 1, 2015. As you may recall, this was originally effective as of 2014, but postponed last July. The employer mandate is the component of the law that will fine employers for not providing coverage (or not meeting the affordability or minimum value requirements) to their full-time employees (those working 30+ hours per week, on average). Here are the newest delays to be aware of as they affect all employers with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees:

Employers with 50-99 full-time equivalent employees: Delay of the employer mandate until 2016. Therefore, no penalty in 2015 if you don’t offer coverage, however you still must begin reporting details about your insurance coverage to the federal government in 2015.
Be aware, you will need to certify eligibility for this transition relief and meet other requirements, including not reducing your workforce to qualify for transition relief and maintaining previously-offered coverage.

Employers with 100+ full-time equivalent employees: You must offer coverage to at least 70% of your full-time employees (working 30+ hours) in 2015, then to at least 95% in 2016. You will also be required by to report details to the federal government next year.
Other transition relief contained in the proposed regulations were also extended, including the ability to use a short timeframe (at least 6 months) to determine whether an employer is large enough to be subject to the mandate, a delay in the requirement to provide coverage to dependent children to 2016 (as long as the employer is taking steps to arrange for such coverage to begin in 2016), and the permitted use of a short measurement period in 2014 to prepare for 2015.


Employers still need to analyze their exposure and employee population. If you are under 100 employees, there is more relief for you however you still have compliance and reporting requirements (to be released over the coming months) that must be reviewed and prepared in time for 2015. If you have more than 100 employees, you will need to review your workforce to determine which employees need to be offered coverage in 2015. While you only have to ensure that 70% of that population is offered coverage, you will need to identify them and ensure you are in compliance with nondiscrimination rules as they apply. Even though this delay appears to provide some relief, it still requires a full analysis and review of your workforce and compliance with some mandates in 2015.


The final regulations are available here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2014-03082.pdf
An IRS Q&A is available here: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Questions-and-Answers-on-Employer-Shared-Responsibility-Provisions-Under-the-Affordable-Care-Act#Liability