U.S. Employers Receive Extra Year to Provide Health Insurance to Workers

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Some workers who were expecting to receive health insurance from their employers by 2014 may have to wait another year, according to recent reports. The Obama administration announced this week that it is allowing employers who were supposed to begin providing workers with coverage under the Affordable Care Act another year to begin offering insurance.

Affordable Care Act Guidelines Extended

Under the 2010 health reform law, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, any employers with 50 or more workers must provide health insurance by 2014.

But with many small businesses complaining that it would be difficult to implement benefits packages in such a short period of time, the Obama administration has offered them an extension.

Assistant Treasury secretary Mark Mazur shared in a blog post that the goal in extending the coverage requirement for employers is to help the administration successfully implement reform in “a careful, thoughtful manner.”

“Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.” Mazur wrote.

He explained that formal guidelines describing this transition will be published within a week.

How to Acquire Health Insurance Without Employer Assistance

With more than 160 million people getting their health insurance through an employer, it’s evident that receiving assistance is the way most Americans acquire their coverage. So what other options do workers have for coverage if they cannot receive employer assistance next year?

  • Health exchanges: All states will be required to offer health insurance via health insurance exchanges by 2014. Health exchanges will offer coverage at group rates similar to those found from employers. Depending on income, some workers may also qualify for federal subsidies.
  • Medicaid: Some states will be expanding their Medicaid coverage eligibility requirements to include individuals and families with higher incomes. Check with your state to learn more about Medicaid expansions.
  • Low-income resources: Another option is to turn to other government or local low-income health insurance resources that could offer free or low-cost coverage to you and/or your family.

The good news is a poll conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans revealed that more than two-thirds of companies definitely plan to offer heath insurance benefits to full-time workers by 2014. So while a handful may have to look for outside coverage options in the coming year, many will likely be able to secure coverage at their place of employment.

(Photo: DoNotLick)