Delay of the Affordable Care Act’s Employer Mandate Provision

Most likely you have heard by now that the Obama Administration has announced that it would delay enforcement of the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until 2015. This is big news.  The employer mandate requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty (shared responsibility). By delaying the employer mandate provision, the administration is delaying the majority of the compliance reporting related to the ACA for employers over or near the 50 employee mark. The laws two other main provisions, the expansion of Medicare and the personal mandate to obtain coverage are still on track. It is important to note as well  that the essential health benefits requirement relating to small employers is also still in effect. That is, if you are a small employer (under 50 employees) who happens to offer a health plan, your plan will still need to meet the essential health benefits outlined in the ACA. In other words, your rates could very well go up if you are a small employer who offers a health plan.

Important in this announcement is the reason for the delay. The administration has specifically acknowledged the complexity of required reporting and the need for more time for employers to prepare for this. This acknowledgement would seem to leave the door open for a revision (dare I say Simplification?) of reporting requirements. We shall see. Predicting the future of the ACA has proven to be treacherous. In the meantime, employers can breathe a sigh of relief but should use this brief reprieve to position themselves for flexible, robust reporting of their wages and hours. When the ground shifts, those with a solid foundation survive. The lesson of this recent twist in the roll out of the Affordable Care Act? Keep moving towards a unified workforce management platform with flexible reporting and stay tuned.