“Obamacare” Employer Mandate Delayed

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act mandate that employers with 50 or more full-time employees provide them health insurance is being delayed for one year, the Treasury Department announced July 2. 

The requirement in the 2010 health care law, informally known as “Obamacare,” was originally scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014; the new date will be Jan. 1, 2015. 

Under the provision, if employers who have 50 or more full-time workers do not provide them affordable health insurance, they would pay a $2,000 fine to the Internal Revenue Service for the uncovered full-timers. The fine would be waived for the first 30 employees—meaning that if the company did not provide insurance for 51 full-timers, it would only have to pay fines for 21 of them. (For the purposes of the health care law, “full-time” is defined as working 30 hours or more.)

According to the Urban Institute Health Penalty Center, some 96 percent of businesses with 50 or more full-time employees already offer health care coverage. The provision does not affect employers that have fewer than 50 workers, some of whom may be eligible for tax credits if they provide insurance. 

A Treasury Department blog post said that the delay was instituted to allow time to simplify the reporting requirements and give employers more time to come into compliance.

Only the employer mandate is subject to the delay. Other ACA provisions are still set to go into effect, including those concerning state health insurance exchanges—marketplaces meant to give small businesses and individuals more purchasing power when seeking coverage—and the much-debated “individual mandate,” which fines people who don’t buy health insurance.

JCK’s June issue includes the feature “Everything Jewelers Need to Know About How Obamacare Will Affect Their Businesses” as well as “JCK 5: How Jewelers Can Best Prepare for Health Insurance Reform.”

JCK News Director