Kelly Kennedy, USA Today
WASHINGTON -- Businesses with more than 50 employees but fewer than 100 will have an extra year to phase in coverage of employees who work more than 30 hours a week, Treasury Department officials announced Monday.
Businesses with more than 100 employers will be subject to employee-coverage rules under the Affordable Care Act beginning in January 2015. The mandate to provide insurance had already been delayed one year.
Volunteer firefighters, part-time teachers and adjunct professors who teach less than 15 hours a week will not be counted as full-time employees, according to a rule released Monday.
"While about 96% of employers are not subject to the employer responsibility provision, for those employers that are, we will continue to make the compliance process simpler and easier to navigate," said Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark J. Mazur. "Today's final regulations phase in the standards to ensure that larger employers either offer quality, affordable coverage or make an employer responsibility payment starting in 2015 to help offset the cost to taxpayers of coverage or subsidies to their employees."
The delay announced last July fueled calls from the law's Republican opponents that the entire law needed to be delayed or repealed, which President Obama and congressional Democrats refused to do. The federal and state exchanges where people can buy health insurance opened on time Oct. 1 but were immediately plagued by outages and glitches that slowed enrollment to a crawl until the site was fixed Nov. 30. Since then, more than 3 million have bought insurance through the exchanges.
The new rule gives employers more time to expand coverage or to provide health insurance if they have never done so before. Those who do not have insurance through their employers may sign up for health insurance at www.HealthCare.gov. Most Americans who make less than 400% of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four, are eligible for subsidies to help pay for insurance.
Businesses with more than 100 employees must offer coverage to 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95% of their employees in 2016.
Employers will need to certify on a form that they did not drop employees to avoid providing coverage.
The change came after input from employers and members of Congress. The new rule determines that adjunct professors should be based on an hour and 15 minutes of preparation outside the classroom for every hour spent teaching in the classroom and that teachers working full-time during the school year do not count as part-time employees if they have the summer off.
Businesses with more than 50 employees would have paid a fee of $2,000 per uninsured employee after the first 30 employees, as well as a fee for employees who receive a subsidy through the exchanges. This comes at a cost to the government: The Congressional Budget Office expected such penalties to bring in $4 billion in 2014, and the new delay causes two years' worth of lost funds.
Companies with fewer than 50 full-time workers are already exempt from the rule.