The Norman Transcript

Business

February 10, 2013

Affordable Care Act here to stay

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Coverage must be offered to full-time employees and their dependents, but under the proposed rule, spouses are no longer considered dependents, Rieger said.

Anyone who works 30 hours a week is considered a full-time employee.

Total health care spending last year was about $2.5 trillion, Grace said. She said statistics indicate that growth of health insurance premiums and workers’ contributions to premiums has far exceeded growth in workers’ earnings and inflation, adding to the health care crisis.

Some components of the new law may make residents better health care consumers. McFall said the flex spending account limit at $2,500 will make employees using those accounts more mindful of how those dollars are spent.

Not all news is bad, McFall said. Health plan design changes for this year establish new women’s preventative services with no deductible or copay. But some of that coverage has caused controversy. Hobby Lobby, for example, has protested requirements to pay for coverage that includes the morning-after pill.

In 2014 the individual insurance mandate begins, and people will be required to have health insurance or be fined. The first year, fines will be $95, but those fines will go up each year, increasing to $695, McFall said.

The panelists agreed that one of the most confusing areas for businesses will be figuring out the number of FTE — full-time equivalent — positions that will be counted. While only employees working 30 hours or more are considered full-time for the purpose of insurance benefits, how many FTEs an employer has will determine which category the business falls into, as far as requirements. Companies employing more than 50 FTEs will be subject to large employer requirements and penalties.

For very large or very small companies, this is not an issue. But mid-sized companies will apply a formula using the number of full-time, part-time and seasonal employees to determine if their FTE count hits 50, knocking them into the large employer category.

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