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Obamacare Here To Stay

October 23, 2013
By: Jim Dickrell, Dairy Today Editor
 
 

There are provisions of the Affordable Care Act you should be complying with yet this year, and actions you might want to take in 2014 to lower your insurance liability.

If the budget and debt limit fiasco of mid October proves anything, it’s that Obamacare is the law of the land.

"Obamacare is here to stay," says Dean Heizer, an attorney with Heizer Paul Grueskin, LLP, Denver, Colo. And the quicker business owners accept that fact, the better position they will be in to deal with its ramifications.

True, the employer mandate, which would require large dairy operations with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to insure those workers, is on hold until January 1, 2015.

But there are other provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) you should be complying with yet this year, and actions you might want to take in 2014 to lower your insurance liability, say Heizer and Kevin Paul, also an attorney with Heizer Paul Grueskin LLP.

They presented the information during an October webinar hosted by Dairy Farmers of America for its members.

For starters, all businesses must provide employees with a notice of the Health Care Exchanges, which will provide links to the new insurance options. "This applies to all businesses, not just those with more than 50 employees," says Dean.

You must provide employees with one of two forms. If you do not offer employee health insurance, you must provide them a form stating such. If you do offer insurance, you need to provide another form stating that.

The forms should be available, in both English and Spanish, from your health insurance provider.

Unlike I-9 employee identification forms, you do not need to sign these documents or even keep copies. But you should keep some kind of record that you provided employees with the forms.

 

Rumors that you are subject to automatic fines of $100 per day per employee for not providing the forms are a complete myth, says Heizer. Those fines might only come about if you were sued by an employee, and the chance of that is slim and none, he says.

"But don’t use that as an excuse not to provide the forms," he says.

If you provide insurance to employees, you must also provide a "summary of benefit coverage" (SBC). You can obtain this document from your provider. If you are self-insured, however, you’ll have to pull the document together on your own.

If you have 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, you will be required to provide insurance to employees or pay a penalty staring Jan. 1, 2015.

The first task is to determine whether you meet the 50 FTE threshold.

Start by counting your full-time employees, defined as those employees who work 30 or more hours per week or 130 hours per month.

Then, if you have part-time employees, add up their monthly hours and divide by 120. This will give you the number of FTEs. (Note: Seasonal workers, those who work for you less than 120 days per year, may be excluded from this count.)

If the sum of full-time and full-time equivalent workers is 50 or more, you are subject to the employer mandate.

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RELATED TOPICS: Dairy, Farm Business, Policy

 
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