Recently the White House announced plans to delay the implementation of the employer mandate requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) by one year, until 2015. The employer mandate, which was one of the essential components of the Affordable Care Act along with the individual mandate to buy health insurance set to begin on October 1, 2013, would have required most businesses (with some exceptions) to provide health care coverage to its employees or face a penalty.
Delay of this provision of the law is being argued by the members of President Obama’s administration as a way to help businesses, particularly smaller employers who would be affected by the law, meet new regulatory and compliance requirements with the least amount of disruption or undue additional burden on employers.
About the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare, was a signature component of the president’s 2008 election campaign. The purpose of Obamacare is to provide for the 45 million Americans who have no health insurance coverage, as well as to eliminate certain practices, common among health insurers and the medical industry, of reserving adequate access to health care for those who could pay for the treatments they needed. The law was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 23, 2010.
The most controversial component of the law required individuals and employers to purchase health insurance coverage, making such coverage mandatory. Individuals are required under the law to have coverage in place beginning January 1, 2014. Employers of 50 or more full-time employees, those individuals working at least 30 hours per week, were also required to comply with the employer mandate beginning January 1, 2014.
Reason for the Delay in Implementing the Employer Mandate
Requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage for their employees has been labeled by detractors of the law as burdensome and overreaching on the part of the Obama Administration. The reporting requirements in particular have been deemed so burdensome to many employers that their complaints have been heard loud and clear by administration officials. Delaying the employer mandate by one year gives both the business community and the administration a chance to clarify reporting requirements and other necessary compliance reports as well as regulations and other rules related to the mandate.
Will Delay of the Employer Mandate Impact the Individual Mandate to Buy Health Insurance?
Some Republican members of the House of Representatives see the administration’s delay as an opening to do away with the law altogether, or at the very least to delay the implementation of other key provisions of the law. The individual mandate, which, according to the administration, is on track along with the health insurance exchanges, has already been taken to the Supreme Court.
In a 5-4 decision (with Chief Justice Roberts writing for the majority in National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al.) the individual mandate has been upheld as constitutional. It does not appear that delay of the employer mandate will in any way impact implementation of the individual mandate, which begins October 1, 2013. Individuals and employers alike should begin making plans to have health insurance in place by 2014.
This article was written together with Robert Tritter, an aspiring lawyer who looks forward to making a positive impact in the world. He writes this on behalf of Prime Urgent Care, the number one low cost urgent care provider in Texas. Check out their website today and see what services they have for you!