Business rules for the affordable care act, part II

Business rules for the affordable care act, part II

More than nine months since the Affordable Care Act really went into effect, and with open enrollment for mandated individual healthcare coverage coming up again Nov. 15, it will be interesting to see how Obamacare plays in the Nov. 4 election.

Will anger and resentment about the ACA set back President Obama’s agenda and put Republicans in total control of Congress, or have most people come to accept Obamacare, perhaps with some tweaking, as a fact of life? We’ll find out on Nov. 5. In the meantime, businesses large and small still have to plan as though Obamacare in its current form will be with us for the long haul.

Small business employers seeking healthcare plans for their employees can enroll for insurance by the 15th of any month for coverage that starts as soon as the first of the next month. ACA mandates differ for businesses based on employee count (self-employed, businesses with 50 or fewer employees, and business with more than 50 employees).

Businesses with 50 or more employees are considered a “large business” under Obamacare and may be subject in 2015 to a fee— some say a fine— called the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP). That has been pushing some businesses “on the bubble” to trim their workforces and get below the 50-employee threshold. No company with fewer than 50 full-time employees is subject to the ESRP.

Businesses (and non-profit organizations) with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees can use the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) to offer healthcare coverage to their employees. Tax credits may be available to qualified businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

I’ll continue on the topic of Obamacare next month. Until then, more information about the ACA and SHOP can be found online at www.sba.gov/healthcare and www.healthcare.gov.

CREDITS

column by BAXTER TROUTMAN

BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Arcadia. A citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.