Know the Law: Health Care Reform Law

John E. Rich, Jr.
Director & Chair, Tax Department
Published: Union Leader
October 1, 2012

Question: I read that the Health Care Reform Law requires  businesses with 50 employees to provide health insurance to all full-time employees in 2014. My company has 40 full-time employees and several part-time employees and I have plans to grow. How will the law impact my business?

Answer: The 2010 health care reform legislation was designed to increase access to health insurance coverage by imposing new responsibilities on individuals, employers, insurers and others. All Americans are required to have health coverage in 2014 or pay a penalty tax. Individuals and small employers (fewer than 50 employees) can obtain coverage through health exchanges. Starting in 2014, large employers (50 or more employees) must provide compliant health coverage to all full-time employees (30 or more hours per week) or pay a penalty tax. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled the law constitutional, federal agencies are working out the details on the employer coverage rules. You should pay attention to this as hiring decisions you make in 2012 and 2013 will determine if the law impacts you.

The determination of whether you are a large employer in 2014 will be based on the average number of full-time employees in the 2013 calendar year plus the number of “full-time equivalent employees” or FTEs. The number of FTEs in a month is determined by adding up the hours worked by all non-full-time employees and then dividing the total hours by 120. If the monthly average of FTEs plus full-time employees is 50 or more, your business must comply with the law throughout 2014.

Large employers will be subject to a yearly penalty of up to $3,000 per employee if coverage is not offered to all full-time employees that is affordable (less than 9.5% of an employee’s salary for single coverage) and of “minimum value” (by new government standards) and employees obtain subsidized coverage through an exchange. There will be numerous rules on how to determine if an employee is full-time working more than 30 hours, and therefore entitled to employer coverage.