The Obama administration says it will push back by one year a key piece of the Affordable Care Act that would require some businesses to provide health insurance to their employees or pay fines instead. In doing so, legislators aim to ease potential burdens on employers, according to Mark J. Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy at the U.S. Treasury Department.
“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively,” Mazur writes in a blog post published July 2. “We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so.”
Mazur adds that the administration will provide formal guidance describing the transition within the next week.
From a small-business perspective, this may or may not be news. The employer-provided insurance mandate applies only to companies with 50 or more employees. So, if you’re running a three-person business out of your home, this delay doesn’t affect you.
However, other aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the upcoming launch of state-run health insurance exchanges, remain in place. So, if you’re self-employed,
you’re still on the hook for employee health insurance. The good news? That employee is you. (And, hey, you should take care of yourself.) Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to provide health insurance plans to their staff members. Their workers, however, will need to get their own insurance if their employer doesn’t offer coverage.
The administration’s planned SHOP Marketplace for small businesses also remains scheduled to launch on Oct. 1. Among the reasons you should be paying attention: Beginning in 2014, certain small-business tax credits for health care costs will be available only for plans purchased through the marketplace. Self-employed entrepreneurs with no employees may buy coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace but not SHOP.