Healthcare responsibilities on the horizon for employers

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American employers are working with a looming Affordable Care Act (ACA) deadline and may not even know it. Small business owners who employ 50 or fewer employees must provide current employees with information about the Health Insurance Marketplace by Oct. 1, 2013, and after that date new employees must be given the same information.

Employees must be told they can lose the employer portion of their health benefits if a plan is purchased through the new marketplace. Additionally, employers should disclose about possible tax credits available to individuals for qualified plans purchased in the marketplace.

In 2014 the American health care landscape will change radically. The ACA requires and provides health insurance for all Americans. Enrollment for insurance coverage begins on Oct. 1, and continues to March 31, 2014, with insurance coverage beginning on Jan. 1, for those enrolled by Dec. 15.

A number of websites are able to provide more information about the requirements and costs for small business employers. Details about the ACA are found at www.healthcare.gov. Developments on the ACA can be found at www.healthcoverageguide.org, maintained by the Small Business Majority. Not affiliated with any insurance company, the organization offers a calculator to help business owners assess insurance costs, and explains the changes in the insurance landscape both for businesses and individuals.

The Small Business Association of Michigan offers a service, www.acanotice.com, to send out notices to employees for employers. There is a one-time charge of $30 plus 60 cents per employee address. The organization also offers information on the ACA at www.sbam.org.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers an online worksheet to assist in understanding the ACA as well as fact sheets for small business owners.

The Federal Department of Labor has said there is no fine or penalty for businesses failing to provide required notice about the health care marketplace by Oct. 1. For employers with fewer than 25 employees, a health credit may be available to offset insurance costs. The Small Business Health Options Program Marketplace can answer questions at 800.706. 7893.




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