Q and A: What businesses should know about Obamacare
The five questions and answers below, courtesy of Northeast Delta Dental CEO Tom Raffio, were culled from the most common queries of the 160 people who attended the session.
None of the information presented here is to be relied on as legal or tax advice. It is general information; the facts of a particular situation could make the information below inapplicable or could change the analysis.
1. QUESTION: Can an employer survey employees about their anticipated medical insurance plans needs?
ANSWER: An employer may survey its employees as to whether they will select the option of employer sponsored coverage or not. Any questions that go beyond that should be drafted carefully so as not to seen as discriminatory. Employers should consult with counsel prior to formulating and distributing any employee survey.
Employers can use the SHOP to purchase medical and dental coverage for employees as long as the company has no more than 50 full-time or full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, whether they are private, nonprofit or governmental entities.
Employers with fewer than 25 employees can apply for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit as long as their employees' average wage is under $50,000 and the employer pays for at least 50 percent of the full-time employees' premium costs.
The tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of the employer's contribution toward employees' premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers) and may be claimed for two years.
The credit is claimed when filing corporate annual federal income tax returns. That is the only "subsidy" for employers.
More information on the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit and the SHOP Marketplace is available at www.sba.gov and www.irs.gov.
To use a particular state's SHOP Marketplace, you must office or employee work site within that SHOP's service area. In this case, this employer could open a SHOP account in Vermont on the State's Marketplace, VermontHealthConnect.gov, and the plan could cover the company's employees, regardless of in which state they live.
The private market remains another option for the purchase of group or individual health and dental coverage.
Because this employer has fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees, she is eligible to purchase coverage on the SHOP Marketplace. It appears that not enough employees will take the coverage offered by the employer to meet the 75 percent minimum participation rate medical carriers are permitted to require of groups under New Hampshire state law.
The New Hampshire Insurance Department and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department will give final approval of all the plans to be offered on the New Hampshire Health Insurance Marketplace for 2015 coverage by early November 2014.
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