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Questions and answers for firms facing (a delayed) Obamacare (Market Watch)

By Russ Britt
Read the article on the Market Watch Website

A couple of questions and answers on the Obamacare front for employers…..

First, a study from company consultant Mercer shows that despite delays in implementing employer mandates as part of President Obama’s health-care overhaul, many employers still plan to add workers on to the rolls of the insured in 2014. And even if many decided to delay that action by a year, costs will still rise per company by roughly 2% to 3%.

A survey by the consultant conducted in May shows that half of all employers are concerned about handling employee questions about the exchanges that are expected to be available in each state should the company not offer coverage, and 43% are concerned about establishing processes for interacting with the exchanges.

Finally, the survey also said that the effort to eliminate so-called “Cadillac” coverage — high-cost, benefit-rich plans usually reserved for top company officials — is proving to be a daunting challenge for some companies. They face a 40% excise tax on the plans if kept.

Now for at least a few answers: For those who work on their own and are still in the dark about what Obamacare means to them, the National Association for the Self-Employed offers a two-page tip sheet on what to expect from the law and what they’re required to do.

The group estimates there are 22 million self-employed people nationwide, 28% of which are uninsured. The good news for the self-employed: they can’t be denied coverage regardless of medical condition. The bad news: it’ll cost them, the group says.

For the self-employed who don’t have insurance, they could pay up to $6,350 per individual and $12,700 per family for coverage. The penalty for the first year is $95 but that is expected to increase within two years to $695 or 2.5% of income, whichever is greater.

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