PROVISIONS TO THE PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (PPACA) have been rolling out since President Obama signed the reform bill in 2010. As of Jan. 1, 2015, the law kicked in for large businesses with 100 or more employees and will take effect for small businesses with 50 to 99 employees (companies under 50 employees are not required to offer health benefits) Jan. 1, 2016. But that doesn’t mean small businesses should take a back seat through this year, says Bob Stanell, managing principal at CS&L CPAs.
“Smaller employers need to pay attention to the 2015 changes to determine the pitfalls [of the law]” and how those will affect them come 2016,” Stanell says. As possible points of confusion, he points to the different reporting mechanisms and data reporting that will be required by law, as well as the myriad tax forms that are required versus those that are only suggested by law.
He also says that employee education, though not obligatory on the employer’s part, is critical.
“We’re talking about expensive issues,” he says.
Employees need to be aware of how their employment status affects their eligibility for certain kinds of health care coverage. For example, at press time, employers were not required to provide health care to part-time employees—those who work fewer than 30 hours per week.
One resource for small business is national payroll companies, which have been gaining momentum as a result of the regulations accompanying the law. “They have a lot of resources dedicated to educating employers, so it may not be uncommon for small businesses to outsource to payroll companies for guidance,” he says.
“The next 12 months will be the greatest training period [small businesses] are going to get,” Stanell adds. ■ by Chelsey Lucas