On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, putting in place comprehensive reforms that improve access to affordable health coverage for all Americans. Often referred to as “Obamacare,” the ACA features strong consumer protections, provides new coverage options and gives consumers the tools to make informed choices about healthcare that will roll out beginning next year. For local businesses, this may mean upgrades to health insurance standards that are currently not in place.

Payroll Specialties NW would like to share some tips from our friends at Tomlin Benefit Planning to help clients track the latest changes to the bill and transition into new coverage in 2014. Below, we highlight key points as they apply to small business and large business groups:

  • Small Businesses (1 to 50 employees)

Starting January 1, 2014, small businesses will be defined as those with 50 employees or less. Small businesses will be allowed to keep their current plan as-is until renewal, at which time, they can purchase insurance coverage through Cover Oregon, which will guarantee qualification for the small employer health insurance tax credit of up to $2,000. Early signs show that small group health plans will be significantly more expensive next year; however, small businesses are not required to purchase group health insurance for their employees under the ACA, and individual health insurance plans may be a more affordable option.

  • Large Businesses (50+ employees)

Businesses with more than 50 full-time employees will be required to purchase group health insurance for employees who work 30 hours or more per week (the exception is that employers can be exempt from this rule for the first 30 employees). The max probationary period remains more or less 90 days from the first day of employment. For businesses that are made of multiple small entities, under the ACA, employers must add all employees together to decide if they fall under the large or small group requirements. Large businesses that do not meet the requirements to provide insurance will be subject to penalties up to $2,000 per employee per year.

It’s important for businesses, small and large, to understand the impact of the healthcare reform on their organization — and their bottom line. For additional resources and links to the most up-to-date information and educational support, click to visit Tomlin Planning’s ACA Webpage to help your organization arrive at solutions that comply with the ACA, while aligning with your company culture and budget.

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