The Internal Revenue Service announced that the Affordable Care Act’s affordability threshold will be 9.78 percent in 2020. This is important because employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees in the preceding calendar year (Applicable Large Employers or ALEs) must offer their full-time employees minimum essential health care coverage that is affordable. Otherwise, they may have to pay the ACA’s employer shared responsibility (employer mandate) penalty.

Affordability under the ACA is calculated as a percentage of household income. So, to satisfy the ACA’s affordability requirement in 2020, the lowest-cost, self-only coverage option offered by Applicable Large Employers may not exceed 9.78 percent of an employee’s household income. The affordability threshold is adjusted annually. In 2019, it was 9.86 percent.

ALEs can use one of the ACA’s affordability safe harbors to determine the most employees can be required to pay without exceeding the affordability threshold. For example, if Pat earned $10 per hour in 2020 and worked 40 hours per week for 52 weeks, Pat’s monthly payment cannot exceed:

  • W-2 Safe Harbor: $169.52 ($170.91 in 2019);
  • Rate of Pay Safe Harbor: $127.14 ($128.18 in 2019); or
  • Federal Poverty Line Safe Harbor: $101.79 ($99.75 in 2019).

Despite being small, these changes can still be significant. To ensure compliance with the ACA’s affordability requirement in 2020, ALEs need to evaluate and possibly adjust their health plan pricing options, cost-sharing structure, and in some cases, compensation levels.

Please contact us if you would like to learn more about ACA-compliant group health plans.