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Obamacare delay takes heat off mid-sized employers Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Monday, 17 February 2014 12:06 PM America/New_York

iStock_000005253776.graffoto8-webMid-sized employers have been granted another year before they will be legally required to offer health insurance to nearly all full-time employees. The Obama administration announced another delay in the employer mandate section of the Affordable Care Act—also known as Obamacare—pushing the requirement back to 2016 for companies with 50 to 99 full-time employees.

Larger companies—defined by the law as having 100 or more employees—also were granted a reprieve in the announcement. Though their implementation date remains Jan. 1, 2015—delayed by a more sweeping announcement in July from the law’s original 2014 deadline—large employers will only be required to offer insurance to 70% of full-time workers by that time, instead of the 95% originally mandated.

Small employers—those with 49 or fewer employees—will not be required to offer insurance or fill out any forms, but will instead be able to purchase health plans through new marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. The federal small-business marketplace, which was supposed to roll out in October 2013, has been delayed until the fall.

Though the administration’s unilateral delays have raised the ire of the law’s critics and proponents alike, the employer mandate delays offer some breathing room to employers still struggling to implement the law’s requirements.  Failure to comply with the requirements can carry steep fines, and with sections of the employer mandate still being questioned on legal and moral grounds—most prominently in the upcoming Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case dealing with the contraceptive portion of the mandate—the requirement’s delays will offer more time for employers and enforcers alike to better assess and implement the law’s changes.