Clock is running for businesses to make health care coverage decisions

Time is running out for employers to be determining whether their health care coverage will meet minimum requirements under provisions in the new health reform laws set to take effect Jan. 1, 2014, employee benefits attorneys Brandon Long and Jim Prince told attendees at McAfee & Taft’s recent labor, employment and employee benefits seminar.

The presentation was highlighted in an article by business writer Paula Burkes in the Sunday Business Section of The Oklahoman, who reported that the seminar drew about 700 human resources professionals from across the state.

“Employers need to look at their employee populations now and determine who they’ll need to cover,” Long said. Businesses, especially those with calendar-year health plans, are running out of time. Business with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees must offer a minimum level of health insurance or pay penalties.

“The calculation to determine your number of full time equivalent employees includes a combination of your full time and a bunch of your part-time,” Long said. Those businesses that find they are subject to mandates need to determine which workers qualify for coverage based on a designated measurement period. According to the new statutes, employees who average at least 30 hours a week, or 130 hours a month, qualify.

Prince advised employers to inform their part-time employees — 29 or fewer hours per week — that hours will be more strictly limited so they will not be subject to coverage mandates for employees not intended to be full-time.

He also told attendees that under the new mandates, employers can’t discriminate on the basis of eligibility or benefits between highly compensated employees and non-highly compensated employees. The only exceptions are fully-insured, grandfathered health plans, or those that haven’t been materially changed since March 2010. But with coming regulations, that exception may go away, the article reported.

You can watch a video of that presentation here.