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ACA and Employers – Know if Coverage You Offer Meets Requirements Under the Affordable Care Act



Certain employers, based on workforce size – called applicable large employers – are subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions. The vast majority of employers fall below the workforce size threshold and, therefore, are not subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.

If you are an employer that is subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions, you may choose either to offer affordable minimum essential coverage that provides minimum value to your full-time employees and their dependents, or to potentially owe an employer shared responsibility payment to the IRS. Many employers already offer coverage that is sufficient to avoid owing a payment.

Here are definitions of key terms to help you understand these requirements: Affordable coverage: If the lowest cost self-only only health plan is 9.5 percent or less of your full-time employee’s household income then the coverage is considered affordable. Because you likely will not know your employee’s household income, for purposes of the employer shared responsibility provisions, you can determine whether you offered affordable coverage under various safe harbors based on information available to the employer.

Minimum essential coverage: For purposes of reporting by applicable large employers, minimum essential coverage means coverage under an employer-sponsored plan. It does not include fixed indemnity coverage, life insurance or dental or vision coverage.

Minimum value coverage: An employer-sponsored plan provides minimum value if it covers at least 60 percent of the total allowed cost of benefits that are expected to be incurred under the plan. Under existing guidance, employers generally must use a minimum value calculator developed by HHS to determine if a plan with standard features provides minimum value. Plans with nonstandard features are required to obtain an actuarial certification for the nonstandard features. The guidance also describes certain safe harbor plan designs that will satisfy minimum value.

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