Understanding the Complicated Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act That Is Implemented in 2015

Posted February 24, 2015 by Layne Davlin
patient protection and affordable care act

Do you know how to handle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, was created in an attempt to make healthcare more accessible. Employer responsibilities changed as a result, but new benefits were created too. Chances are, you’ve already felt the sting of changing regulations, but changes are being phased in over time. Do you know the ins and outs of the ACA and how it affects you now and in the future?

Pay attention. The following points can quickly get you up to speed:

Self-insured health plans

If you employ fewer than 100 workers, you may be sponsoring a self-insured health plan. This covers the costs for employee health care instead of going through a group care plan. Starting in 2015, the ways you report this coverage changes, and you’ll be responsible for filing new paperwork on every single person enrolled in the plan. If you haven’t started to make this shift already, speak with a regulation and compliance expert to ensure your deadlines are met and reports are filed correctly.

Incidentally, you can avoid these new regulations by joining a group healthcare plan. If you’re working with a PEO now, you may be surprised by the low rates you’re offered. If not, it’s worth at least getting a quote. New regulations will make self-insured plans even less affordable for business owners.

Wellness Programs and Rewards

Despite intense criticism, portions of the ACA drastically reduce the cost of health care coverage while promoting real reductions in health risks. A major vehicle for enjoying these benefits is the work wellness program. Obamacare promotes programs that help workers stop smoking, reduce cholesterol and manage other health hazards through nutrition and fitness counseling programs provided by employers.

What’s more is that these employers are allowed to reward participants for participating and showing improvement. Healthcare coverage costs can effectively be reduced, in some cases, by up to 50 percent.

However, to comply with anti-discriminatory guidelines, employers need to be careful to offer alternatives to people who cannot complete a program because of existing health problems. Review the new wellness program guidelines to give your workers big breaks in coverage costs.

Withholding, Notifications and Disclosure Rules

By now, you’ve likely been changing your practices for a while to meet the new guidelines for higher withholding limits, notifying employees about the Marketplace and providing your workers with SBC disclosure statements. If you haven’t, you’re already in trouble.

Small Business Tax Credit

If you’re a small employer with fewer than 25 workers, average less than $50,000 in payments per person per year, and you pay for at least half of their personal healthcare deductibles through a Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, you can get a tax credit of up to 50 percent of those costs. This allows business owners to take on as much of their employees’ healthcare costs as possible, providing your biggest assets with the resources they need to stay productive.

Part of being a good employer is ensuring your employees have their basic needs met. Historically, American business owners have struggled to do that as ballooning healthcare costs kept robust coverage cost prohibitive. Thanks to changes like these, times are changing. Business owners who invest in careful planning can have the best of both worlds. While keeping costs low, companies can protect their biggest investments.

To find out more about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can help you be a better boss, call 770-962-1700.