Preparing for Obamacare: Next Steps for Employers

Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, what should employers do to make sure they're in compliance?
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Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Now the scramble is on to figure out what that actually means for individuals and companies going forward.

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Sure, things can still change if the legislature votes to overturn it – a possibility that depends heavily on the outcome of this fall's elections. But rather than wallow in uncertainty, the people at Fisher & Phillips LLP, a law firm that specializes in representing employers in labor and employment matters, say "it's time to get to work."

Many of the provisions of the ACA will not go into effect until 2014, but business should be preparing now to make sure they are in compliance, according to a blog posted on Fisher & Phillips' website. Here are some of items the firm says all employers should be looking at already:

Employer "play or pay" mandate (scheduled to go into effect in 2014): Over the last several months, we've heard a lot about the individual mandate, but the law includes a provision requiring "large employers" – generally companies with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees – to "play or pay." If these employers do not provide "adequate and subsidized" group health coverage, they would be subject to a penalty. Start looking now at how these options could impact your company's bottom line.

Automatic enrollment requirement (scheduled to go into effect in 2014): For employers with more than 200 employees, the ACA requires new employees receive automatic enrollment in health care coverage. In other words, the default for inaction on the part of the employee will be enrollment rather than an assumed declining of participation.

Handling of Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rebates (immediate impact): How your company handles any MLR rebates it receives in the coming months depends on the specific language of your plan and the structure of the plan premiums. Review your legal right and obligations now to ensure compliance.

New limits on employee contributions to flexible spending accounts (scheduled to go into effect in 2013): Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, employee contributions to a flexible spending account maintained under your cafeteria plan will be limited to $2,500. Make sure your plan reflects this change before your enrollment period begins.

These are just a few of the significant changes that employers will have to deal with under the PPaACA. Read more about your obligations at Fisher & Phillips' website.

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