Businesses employing fewer than 100 full-time workers now have until 2016 to provide qualifying health benefits, the Obama administration announced Monday. The new regulations do not affect employers with more than 100 workers, who will still be subject to fines in 2015 unless they offer coverage.
The year-long delay of the so-called “employer mandate” is the second to come from the White House, who originally intended all businesses employing more than 50 people to provide health insurance or face tax penalties this year. The mandate was first delayed until 2015.
The new changes will allow producers working with businesses of between 50 and 100 people an additional year to navigate the new marketplace and find appropriate coverage for clients.
Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy Mark J. Mazur said the delay would allow the nation’s employers to “ease in” to the new policy.
“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,” Mazur said. “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.”
However, large employers did get something of a reprieve. According to the new regulations, businesses with more than 100 workers will only be required to offer coverage to 70% of their staff in 2015. In 2016, that percentage will rise to 95%.
The regulations also allow businesses to exempt seasonal workers—those employed less than six months—from their final count of insured employees.
If employers fail to meet ACA mandates, they will be fined $2,000 per individual beyond the first 30 employees.