Businesses should review their health plans. The employer mandate kicks in next year for firms with 100 or more full-time-equivalent workers. Companies must offer health coverage to full-timers and, beginning in 2016, their dependents, or pay a tax. A dependent is an employee’s child under age 26 and excludes spouses, stepchildren and foster kids. Firms with 50 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees have until 2016 to comply with the pay-or-play rules.
The fines for noncompliance are stiff. One hits firms that fail to offer coverage to at least 70% of full-time workers in 2015 if even one full-timer opts to buy insurance through a government exchange and receives a tax credit to subsidize the premium. For 2015, the fine is $2,120 times the total number of full-timers employed (less 80). Keep in mind that the amount is indexed each year for inflation and will rise over time. Beginning in 2016, the required coverage jumps from 70% to 95%, dependents must be covered and only 30 full-timers can be disregarded in calculating the penalty.