Yesterday, the Treasury Department announced that employers will not be penalized for not offering health insurance… until 2015, that is.
Apparently, there were so many difficulties popping up for employers compliance-wise that it would’ve been silly to go forward with full enforcement.
If you skulked around the site on Sunday, you saw the link to Riskpertise, which discusses several of the compliance conundrums that employers are racing to deal with in advance of the ACA rollout.
It’s fortunate that the administration gave employers a bit more time here. They’ve effectively tripled the amount of time that employers have to get a quality system set up for their employees. Employers no longer have to set up something half-assed and hope that it complies with the incredibly intricate regulatory framework.
Of course, what this also means for employers is that as they develop their health insurance plans alongside the chosen provider, the two sides can come together and create a robust employee health program.
It’s win-win-win, the way I see it. Employers win by getting more time to sort through the details and really think about what’s best for them and their employees. Insurance providers win by having the time to figure out comprehensive plans. Employees win by not being clobbered with extra costs right away — there’s a bit more time for the ones who aren’t covered and aren’t in good health to at least get the health part squared away.
Better health, of course, means better premiums and payment plans.
If you’re an employer that doesn’t already offer health insurance or an employee health program, you just hit the jackpot.
Not only do you not have to provide insurance for another year, you also have a brilliant opportunity to improve your employees’ health statuses over the next 18 months.
A lot can be done in 18 months. You can have an employee wellness program ready to go by January, get as many people involved as you can, and work on improving health throughout 2014. By the time you get to 2015 and have to provide insurance, your at-risk employees might have improved their health to such a degree that neither of you have to deal with the higher cost that comes with being on multiple medications or from being diabetic, obese, or [insert disease of civilization here].
This is an especially fortuitous development for small businesses. With less room to invest comes the need to invest smartly, saving money whenever possible.
If this means getting insurance handled before the 2015 deadline, that’s great. What it should mean is that employers are urging employees to get their health in line so that neither of them have to fork over more money when insurance costs finally enter the equation.
Small businesses that don’t yet have employee health insurance have just been offered a brilliant opportunity to cut their future costs. One of the best ways to do that? Employee health.
Hop to it.