The Race Towards a Moving Finish Line Continues for ACA
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In November, the President announced that the Administration would permit insurance carriers to renew plans for individuals and small groups (under 50 full-time equivalent employees) that had been previously cancelled due to their non-compliance with the ACA without penalty. This new policy couched as a suggestion has been met with a mixed reaction among states. Each state has to make a decision whether to allow carriers to follow the Administrations lead, and that in turn will let carriers know whether they can renew the previously-cancelled plans. Illinois announced late in November that they would allow for the extension, so carriers are now evaluating their options.
Additionally, the government has been hard at work updating its online portal (www.healthcare.gov) and claims to have met their self-imposed deadline of November 30 to have it fully-functional for most users. Early indications are that the site has seen significant improvements but some issues remain. It's currently unknown if the government will further delay the deadline for enrollment. Acknowledging problems the site has caused for those trying to sign up for coverage, the Administration has also extended the open enrollment window to December 23, 2013, for January 1, 2014 coverage.
Finally, the last significant development for the ACA is the delay in allowing small employers to use the online portal to enroll in the SHOP Exchange. As a marketplace set up specifically for small businesses, SHOP is still available for small groups, but enrollments must be done on paper. It's expected that the SHOP will be open for online enrollment for the 2015 plan year.
In the meantime, large employers (over 50 full-time equivalent employees) haven't seen much in terms of new regulatory or legislative changes that affect their 2014 timetable. Penalties for non-compliance with the Employer Mandate for providing coverage remain delayed through 2014. But, all signs point towards January 1, 2015 as being the date when compliance with all aspects of Shared Responsibility will be required. Large employers should either be in compliance now, or plan on being in compliance upon reaching their renewal date in 2014.
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