Crain News Service report
WASHINGTON (July 3, 2013) — The Obama administration has delayed for one year a requirement that employers offer health insurance to their workers or pay fines, giving a reprieve to small-business owners grappling with how to comply with the new healthcare law.
The administration announced the decision late June 2 in a blog post by Mark Mazur, the assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury Department. The administration said that delaying penalties until 2015 would give the government more time to simplify requirements, and give businesses more time to adjust.
That decision brought relief to companies that don't already offer health insurance to all full-time employees, including many car dealerships.
Under the law, companies that have the equivalent of 50 or more employees working more than 30 hours per week will need to provide coverage to all of these employees or face a $2,000 fine for each full-time employee without coverage, with an exemption for the first 30.
Many small businesses are close to that 50-employee threshold, raising the possibility they might choose to fire employees, shift employees to part-time work or postpone hiring in order to avoid substantial new costs.
The decision will not affect large employers that already offer health insurance.
More than 90 percent of employers with 50 or more employees now offer health benefits to full-time employees, according to Paul Fronstin, a senior research associate at the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C.
The rest of the healthcare law will remain intact.
All individuals will still need to have health insurance in 2014 or else pay a fine. Employees who do not get coverage from an employer will be able to apply for coverage, often at a subsidized rate, through state-run insurance exchanges in states that have chosen to establish them.
Reporter Adam Rubenfire contributed to this report, which appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.