Shortly before the July 4th holiday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that enforcement of the Employer Shared Responsibility requirement under the Affordable Care Act (Act) will be delayed until 2015. The employer mandate, which generally requires employers with at least 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees to offer health care benefits or pay a penalty, was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2014.

Through a dialogue with businesses about the Act’s employer and insurer reporting requirements, the administration learned of concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively. As a result, the administration decided to delay the Act’s mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements.

According to the announcement, this delay is designed to:

  • Provide the administration more time to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law.
  • Provide more time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.

The administration recognized that delaying the Act’s mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements will make it impractical to determine which employers owe shared responsibility payments for 2014. As a result, the administration decided to also delay enforcement of the employer mandate, stating that “these payments will not apply for 2014. Any employer shared responsibility payments will not apply until 2015.”

The Treasury says it will be publishing formal guidance regarding the delayed enforcement soon and that proposed rules will be published this summer. Once these rules have been issued, the administration says it will work with employers, insurers and other reporting entities to strongly encourage them to voluntarily implement this information reporting in 2014, in preparation for the full application of the provisions in 2015.

So what should employers be doing now? The Employer Shared Responsibility provision is still the law, it just isn’t being enforced. Not surprisingly, talking heads are making predictions and debating whether it’s really speeding if nobody can pull you over. Unfortunately, the manner in which employer’s will be affected by the delay will not be known until additional guidance is issued.

At Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk, we are committed to guiding you through the changing health care reform landscape. Check back with us periodically for future informational updates about the Affordable Care Act. If you have specific questions about the Act or if you are ready to take action and would like to see how Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk can help, contact us.

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