Preparing for Union Negotiations in the Age of Obamacare

Does your company offer coverage to employees that are part of a collective bargaining unit?

If so, you’ll need to understand and consider the impact certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have on the benefits you offer and your negotiations with the union.

For example, the Shared Responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which require employers to offer coverage to full-time employees or be subject to penalties, may be problematic for your organization. You have a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) in place and will need to make sure that the provisions of that agreement relating to health coverage also comply with the requirements of the ACA. Of course, you’ll also want to be careful to limit the costs of providing health coverage.

Before heading into union negotiations, you should be aware of strategies for maintaining costs and understand the implications presented by ACA requirements. Here are a few to consider. Continue reading

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The ACA Premium Tax Credit: Take It Now or Later?

This year over 7.1 million Americans enrolled in health plans on state and federal health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For many families, one of the benefits of enrolling in an exchange health plan is the “Premium Tax Credit,” also known as a premium subsidy. The subsidy is provided to help make the cost of healthcare insurance affordable to individuals and families who meet certain eligibility requirements:

  • You must purchase insurance through a health insurance exchange (e.g., the Marketplace);
  • Your household income must be between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (“FPL”).
  • You must not be eligible for “affordable” employer-sponsored coverage, or government-sponsored coverage (like Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, or TRICARE);
  • You cannot be claimed by another person as a dependent; and
  • You cannot file a “married filing separately” tax return (except in certain domestic violence situations—see IRS Notice 2014-23).

Your eligibility for the credit, and the amount of the credit you can receive, is determined based on the information you provide when you apply for coverage. If you are eligible, you decide when to receive the credit:

  • Take it now – You can choose to have part or all of your estimated credit paid directly to your insurance company, thus lowering your share of monthly premiums during 2014.

or

  • Take it later –You can wait until you file your 2014 income tax return (in 2015) to take the credit, which will be a refundable credit on your income tax return.

Continue reading

Your Company Could Pay When Employees Qualify for ACA Tax Credit

Most people are aware by now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires individuals to have health insurance coverage beginning in 2014, and that many of those individuals who purchase coverage through a government-run insurance exchange will qualify for a premium subsidy or tax credit—the government pays a portion of their premium if their income is below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. But do you know what the consequences are for your company if one of your employees receives a tax credit? Continue reading

Small Employer Deductible Cap Eliminated

Good news for small employers (those with 2 – 50 employees in their healthcare plan) – On April 1, President Obama signed legislation eliminating the deductible limit for plans of this size. That generally means that small employers now have more flexibility to offer plans with higher deductibles – plans that can save the employers and their employees money. Continue reading

Keeping Workplaces Healthy In the Obamacare Era

In recent years, Wellness programs have become a popular way for employers to encourage healthy lifestyles and disease prevention among their employees. Along with the rest of the healthcare environment, the rules governing these programs are changing under The Affordable Care Act.

Find out how your program fits into the new requirements. Continue reading

What No One’s Telling You About the Cost of Not Enrolling — It’s Not Just a Tax Penalty

March 31st, the deadline for enrolling in healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act, is fast approaching. If you are one of the millions of people who have chosen not to enroll, you may want to re-think that decision. The consequences of not enrolling by the deadline may be greater than you think – there’s much more to it than the tax penalty you’ve heard about.

You’re responsible for all of your medical expenses.

In the pre-Obamacare era, if you needed extensive healthcare and were not insured, you might qualify to receive benefits through Medicaid, providing you protection from the potentially catastrophic impact of unforeseen healthcare expenses.

That protection is no longer available. As of this year, if you are uninsured, you will be required to pay 100% of your medical expenses, regardless of how extensive they are and what your financial means are. There is no limit to the amount you may be charged for medical services. Continue reading

Understanding the ACA Waiting Period and Orientation Period

This article refers to all regulations issued through March 6, 2014.  It is intended to be a summary of important issues and should not be considered legal or tax advice.

Final regulations were released on February 24, 2014 confirming and clarifying earlier guidelines relating to waiting periods for group health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The general rule is that group health plans may not apply a waiting period that exceeds 90 days.

What is a “waiting period”?

The term “waiting period” refers to the time before coverage for an “otherwise eligible” individual becomes effective. Waiting periods are not required—coverage can begin immediately—but under the ACA, if a waiting period is imposed, it cannot be longer than 90 days. Continue reading

The Five Most Misunderstood Aspects of Healthcare Reform

This article refers to all regulations issued through March 6, 2014.  It is intended to be a summary of important issues and should not be considered legal or tax advice.

Obamacare – it’s everywhere these days. And every pundit and politician has an opinion on each of the law’s provisions and how they will affect the way healthcare will be delivered. With all the conflicting information out there, it can be hard to get a handle on what the truth is. Here’s our summary of the five most misunderstood aspects of the Affordable Care Act – and some insight into how these provisions might affect your business. Continue reading

Affordable Care Act Updates

  • Another Delay in the Employer Mandate to Offer Coverage
  • Relief for Employers with 50-99 Employees
  • Changes to Rules for Shared Responsibility

On Monday, February 10, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service issued 238 pages of final regulations for Employer Shared Responsibility under the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”). The general media has stated that the new regs provide companies with 50 – 99 employees more time to comply with the requirement that they offer healthcare to employees. But there’s much more to the regulations. The summary below should help you to understand how the new regulations may or may not affect your business. Each section of the summary is followed by a series of Frequently Asked Questions we’ve been hearing about the regs. Leave a comment to let us know if you’d like us to address one or more of these issues in more detail. Continue reading