Q And A On Obamacare's Employee Health Insurance

Payroll specialist tackles the confusion over when Obamacare employee health regulations are supposed to kick in for farm employers.

Published on: Sep 23, 2013

Obamacare interpreters could well hang out new shingles if they can weave their way through the labyrinth of ever-changing rules and delays. One tax law specialist near Westminister, Md., recently posted a sign – "The Deconfusionater".

But here's a quick answer to one question of concern to farm employers and payroll people. It was raised to Tricia Richardson, a certified payroll professional and human resource specialist with Stambaugh Ness, a financial consulting company headquartered in York, Pa.

Q: I thought the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, PPACA, Health Care Reform or whatever they are calling it these days, was delayed a year. What is and isn't delayed?

Q And A On Obamacares Employee Health Insurance
Q And A On Obamacare's Employee Health Insurance

A: How government does love that alphabet soup – ACA, PPACA, HCF and on and on. Maybe we could add Wellness Programs, as well.

I was asked last week if the ACA law would go away with the end of the presidency. If only! Basically, the only provisions of the law that were delayed until January 1, 2015, are:

  • Employer Mandate: Employers must offer coverage to employees who work an average of 30-plus hours per week.
  • Affordability: Coverage must be affordable. The employee's share of the employee-only coverage cost cannot exceed 9.5% of the employee's W2 wages.
  • Coverage and value minimums: Minimum essential coverage (60%) must be provided to full-time employees (30 or more hours per week) and must be offered to 95% of full-time employees.
  • Reporting Requirements: Employers (and insurers) must provide data regarding employees and coverage (full-time equivalent counts). It should be noted, however, that seasonal workers are disregarded in determining FTEs and average annual wages unless the seasonal worker works more than 120 days during the tax year.

Individual mandates, and all other provisions of the law, remain effective beginning January 1, 2014 – unless they, too, are postponed.