Small Companies Still Have ObamaCare Obligations this Year
You still have obligations to meet this year under Obamacare even if you are a small company and are not subject to the coverage mandates. On July 2, 2013 the White House announced that the employee coverage mandate, the associated penalties and reporting requirements would be waived for 2014 for companies with more than 50 full-time employees. The IRS issued the transition relief notice on July 9, 2013.
The non-discrimination regulations are also delayed to allow the IRS time to complete their rules although some laws still apply to discriminatory coverage of employees. Discrimination may occur when owners or highly compensated employers provide health insurance coverage for themselves but not to their other full-time employees. Although the rules are not final, this practice will essentially be prohibited when the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) rules take effect in 2015. The penalty for health insurance coverage discrimination under the ACA is reported to be $100 per day per affected employee. Check out this article on Business Week.
Despite the recent postponement of coverage requirements, some obligations remain and they apply to small employers as well as employers with more than 50 FTE’s.
• Beginning October 1, 2013 ALL EMPLOYERS must provide a Notice of Coverage Options document to ALL EMPLOYEES.
• Small employers who do not provide coverage must provide all employees with a notice of coverage option within 14 days of their hiring. Click on the link to see the Department of Labor notice for employers not providing coverage.
• If you provide coverage to employees, here is a link to the model notice for the required notification.
At this point the individual mandate and insurance reforms are still scheduled to kick-in January 1, 2014. Individual penalties will still apply except for some low income individuals who are exempted from penalties if their cost to buy insurance exceeds 8% of their household income after the receipt of subsidies. Or if they have income so low a tax return is not required. “Affordable coverage” is defined as occurring when the individual’s contribution to the lowest cost, self-only health insurance premium is less than 9.5% the employee’s taxable wages.
The subsidies, which are paid directly to the insurers, still apply although IRS will not verify the income information submitted by applicants in 2014. The honor system will be in effect until IRS gets its data systems in place. The Kaiser Family Foundation has a subsidy calculator. The threshold to qualify for subsidies is broader than you might think, reaching as high as $94,000 for a family of four.
Your Email Newsletter to Your Customers May Get Sorted Out by New G-Mail Filters
Google’s Gmail filters have been around for a while, but their new filtering system automatically filters incoming email into folders and they may impact receipt of important message to your customers.
When I opened my Gmail account today, my email had already been sorted into folders:
• Primary: This is supposed to be email that’s sent specifically to you or that you find important.
• Social: Notifications from social sites.
• Promotions: Promotions and offer emails, e.g. Groupon offers.
• Updates: Primarily bills, receipts, order updates.
• Forums: Anything discussion or comment related.
Some of the sorting was not consistent. I found the same type email alerts in two different folders.
New Gmail filters may help filter out all those replica watch and bootleg medication emails, but some of your important email notifications to your customers may also go to the promotions folder. Check out the Google video on these changes to Gmail.