(by Slava Darozhkin)
We’ve well-covered the parameters of an applicable large employer and their obligations to their 50+ full-time employees, now it’s time to turn our attention to the fiber of our nation: the small business owners. The companies that employ fewer than 50 full-time employees have questions about the ACA guidelines, too!
Do these fewer, yet still full-time employees get any help from their employers with health insurance costs? Do the employers have any legal obligations in such regard?
Do I Legally Have to Play?
Let’s begin by clearing your biggest concern first and answering quite plainly: No. If you are a small business with fewer than 50 full-time employees, you will not be held accountable for not paying the health insurance contribution costs for our employees.
There’s always the option to still provide hard-working employees with coverage and for that, the ACA also established the SHOP, or Small Business Health Options Program, and if incorporated, the company can then also apply for a Small Business Health Care Tax Credit which will lower your premiums.
When a business decides to comply with any aspects of the ACA it immediately opens itself up to further obligations, for example:
All employees are equal. If a small business owner chooses to provide health insurance coverage to any eligible employee, it must provide it to all eligible employees equally.
90-Day maximum waiting period. Once an employer is providing health insurance coverage, they are obligated to have new employees covered in no more than 90 days, maximum.
All information must be provided. Any employee receiving health benefits has a right to a full summary of the coverage and benefits they’re receiving, and for what cost.
You will be invited to expand your programs. The ACA is full of good ideas to promote healthier and happier workplaces, including incentives that vary per category, while the costs have risen in most.
That being said, SMBOs (small business owners) do not have the obligation to report and prove that they provide health benefits. That obligation falls to ALEs, health insurance companies, and self-insuring companies of any size.