By John Utz
My late father used to tell me with sad prescience that at a certain age, one’s health can seem to fail in a temporally compact series of calamities. He said this at a time when he may have been anticipating the first domino falling. Given the string of bad news this year for supporters of health-care reform, it may seem like Obamacare has fallen and won’t be able to get up. The better bet, though, is probably that rather than suffering a broken hip, Obamacare is playing through a sprained ankle, and may be at full strength next season.
Given the pell-mell news of the fall, it makes sense to take stock of where employers stand in relation to their obligations under healt-care reform. The answer, as before the events of this fall, is different for large employers than for small.
Here is a partial scorecard for small employers (those with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees, employed an average of at least 30 hours per week):
The one year delay in the requirement that large employers provide health insurance for their full-time employees or instead pay an assessment is very welcome, but still leaves large employers with much work to do in preparing for this requirement for 2015.
Most urgently, employers need at this time to be tracking the hours of employees whose work schedules are variable. That is because the determination of which employees will be considered full-time in 2015 (and who therefore must be provided coverage to avoid an assessment) will turn on the hours they work in 2014, and potentially even the last quarter of 2013.
John Utz, a partner in Utz & Lattan in Overland Park, KS.