“Today’s decision gives employers and benefit professionals some clarity," said Cara Woodson Welch, Vice President of Public Policy and Public Affairs at WorldatWork, in a statement. "Now that the constitutional debate over the health-care law has been resolved, employers should continue to focus their attention on ensuring that their health-care plans are in compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). While we expect political debate to continue over health-care reform, employers are advised to keep moving forward with implementing PPACA and its governing regulations.”
Mercer advises that employers move forward with implementation of the law’s provisions or expect to pay a penalty. The high court’s decision affirms that Americans are required to have adequate health coverage starting in 2014 or pay a penalty. Also in 2014, employers that fail to offer full-time employees and their dependents affordable coverage with a minimum value likewise will face penalties.
In the near term, Mercer said, employers also must report the value of employer coverage on IRS Form W-2, cap dollar limits on health care flexible spending arrangements, and increase Medicare withholding for high earners (those earning more than $200,000 per year). They must also comply with the reforms already in effect, such as coverage of dependents up to age 26.
“But first and foremost, employers must estimate how the law will affect their business,” said Sharon Cunninghis, senior partner and leader of Mercer’s US Health and Benefits business. “Any employers who have not yet conducted a ‘health care reform check-up’ should make that their first order of business.”