The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in 2010, with the primary goal of making healthcare more accessible and affordable to all Americans. One of the key components of the ACA is the employer mandate, which requires certain employers to offer health insurance coverage to their full-time employees and their dependents. This mandate aims to ensure that more people have access to quality healthcare, while also reducing the strain on government healthcare programs.
Navigating the ACA employer mandate can be challenging for employers, as there are numerous provisions, requirements, and penalties to consider. This comprehensive guide will provide a detailed overview of the ACA employer mandate and offer guidance on how to provide affordable health coverage and benefits plans for your workforce.
It is important for employers to understand their obligations under the ACA employer mandate, as non-compliance can result in significant financial penalties. By following the guidance provided in this guide, employers can help ensure that their workforce is protected and compliant with the ACA’s regulations.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was passed into law in 2010 with the aim of improving the American healthcare system. The ACA has three primary goals: to increase the number of people with health insurance, to improve the quality of health insurance coverage, and to reduce the overall cost of healthcare. The ACA has made several significant changes to the American healthcare system, including expanding Medicaid, prohibiting insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and establishing health insurance marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to purchase coverage for small group markets.
One of the key provisions of the ACA is the employer mandate, which requires certain employers to offer health insurance coverage to their full-time employees and their dependents. The employer mandate was designed to ensure that more Americans have access to affordable health insurance and to reduce the number of uninsured individuals in the United States.
While the ACA has faced numerous legal challenges and efforts to repeal or replace the law since its inception, it remains in effect, and employers must continue to comply with the employer mandate and other ACA provisions.
Under the ACA, the employer mandate applies to Applicable Large Employers (ALEs). An ALE is defined as an employer with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) during the previous calendar year. The number of full-time employees and FTEs is calculated on a monthly basis and then averaged over the entire year to determine an employer’s ALE status.
It is important to note that ALE status is determined at the control group level, meaning that all employees of a large group of related entities under common control are aggregated for the purpose of determining ALE status. This means that even if an individual entity has fewer than 50 full-time employees or FTEs, it may still be considered an ALE if the entire control group meets the ALE threshold.
Employers considered ALEs must comply with the ACA employer mandate and offer health insurance coverage to their full-time employees and dependents.
To determine if an employer is an ALE, it is necessary to calculate the number of full-time employees and full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). A full-time employee is defined as an employee who works an average of at least 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month. Part-time employees, on the other hand, are those who work fewer than 30 hours per week.
In order to calculate FTEs, employers must first determine the total number of hours worked by part-time employees in a given month. This total is then divided by 120, which represents the number of hours a full-time employee would work in a month (30 hours per week multiplied by 4 weeks). The resulting number is the total number of FTEs for that month.
For example, if an employer has 10 part-time employees who each work 20 hours per week, the total number of hours worked by part-time employees in a month would be 800 hours (10 employees multiplied by 20 hours per week multiplied by 4 weeks). Dividing this total by 120 results in 6.67 FTEs for that month.
To determine an employer’s ALE status, the total number of full-time employees and FTEs must be averaged over the entire calendar year.
The Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions are the primary components of the ACA employer mandate. Under these provisions, ALEs are required to offer health insurance coverage to their full-time employees and their dependents. The coverage offered must meet certain requirements, including providing Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) and being affordable and of minimum value for the employee.
An ALE that fails to offer coverage that meets these requirements may be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP), which is a financial penalty imposed on non-compliant employers.
It is important for ALEs to understand the specifics of the Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions in order to avoid potential penalties and ensure compliance with the ACA employer mandate.
Under the ACA employer mandate, ALEs are required to offer health insurance coverage that provides Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) to their full-time employees and their dependents. MEC is defined as coverage that includes a certain set of essential health benefits, such as hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity care, and mental health services.
The coverage offered must also meet the minimum value standard, which means that it must cover at least 60% of the total allowed cost of benefits. Additionally, the coverage must be affordable for the employee, meaning that the employee’s share of the premium for self-only coverage cannot exceed a certain percentage of their household income (9.83% for the 2021 plan year).
If an ALE fails to offer coverage that meets the MEC requirements, it may be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP) for non-compliance.
The affordability of the health insurance coverage offered by an ALE is determined based on the employee’s household income. The employee’s share of the premium for self-only coverage cannot exceed a certain percentage of their household income, which is determined by the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
If an employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage exceeds the affordability threshold, they may be eligible for a premium tax credit to help offset the cost of coverage purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace. If one or more full-time employees receive a premium tax credit, the ALE may be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP) for failing to offer affordable coverage.
It is important for ALEs to carefully consider the affordability of the coverage they offer to ensure compliance with the ACA employer mandate and to minimize the risk of ESRP penalties.
ALEs that fail to comply with the ACA employer mandate may be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP). The ESRP is a financial penalty imposed on non-compliant employers and can be quite significant, depending on the number of employees and the specific provisions of the employer mandate that were not met.
There are two types of ESRP penalties: the “A” penalty and the “B” penalty. The “A” penalty applies when an ALE fails to offer MEC to at least 95% of its full-time employees and their dependents, and at least one full-time employee receives a premium tax credit for coverage purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The “B” penalty applies when an ALE offers MEC to at least 95% of its full-time employees and their dependents, but the coverage is not affordable or does not meet the minimum value standard for one or more employees who receive a premium tax credit.
The amount of the ESRP penalty varies based on the type of penalty and the number of full-time employees, but it can be substantial, making it crucial for ALEs to ensure compliance with the ACA employer mandate.
In order to comply with the ACA employer mandate and avoid ESRP penalties, ALEs must offer affordable health insurance coverage that meets the MEC requirements. There are several strategies that employers can employ to ensure that they are offering coverage that meets these requirements.
In addition to offering affordable health insurance coverage that meets the MEC requirements, ALEs must also comply with the ACA reporting requirements. This includes filing forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and providing each full-time employee a copy of the 1095-C form.
The IRS uses These forms to determine whether an ALE has complied with the employer mandate and to administer the premium tax credits for eligible employees. Employers must ensure that they accurately complete and file these forms on time to avoid potential penalties for non-compliance.
In order to navigate the complex world of ACA reporting and compliance, employers may consider working with a professional benefits consultant or a third-party administrator (TPA) who specializes in ACA compliance. These professionals can help ensure that the employer meets all of the ACA requirements and assist with the reporting process.
The ACA employer mandate is a complex and challenging aspect of the Affordable Care Act, but it plays a crucial role in ensuring that more Americans have access to affordable health insurance coverage. By understanding the requirements of the employer mandate, calculating full-time employees and FTEs, offering coverage that meets the MEC requirements, and navigating the ACA reporting process, employers can help ensure that their workforce is protected and compliant with the ACA’s regulations.
By following the guidance provided in this comprehensive guide, employers can successfully navigate the ACA employer mandate and provide affordable health coverage for their workforce, ultimately contributing to a healthier and more secure workforce for years to come.
Follow Taylor Benefits Insurance Agency for more informative posts on employee health benefits. Get in touch for professional help with choosing an appropriate employee benefits package.
Todd Taylor, oversees most of the marketing and client administration for the agency with help of an incredible team.
Todd is a seasoned benefits insurance broker with over 35 years of industry experience. As the Founder and CEO of Taylor Benefits Insurance Agency, Inc., He provides strategic consultations and high-quality support to ensure his clients’ competitive position in the market.
We’re ready to help! Call today: 800-903-6066