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Businesses should redouble their compliance efforts on the Affordable Care Act after Thursday's supreme court decision rejecting most of the challenge to the law, human resource experts said Thursday.
"With all of the law's provisions still in place, employers will need to redouble their compliance efforts, especially regarding such immediate requirements as providing summaries of benefits and coverage to their employees," said Julio Portalatin, CEO of the big international human resources consultant Mercer.
The law requires Americans to have adequate health coverage starting in 2014 or pay a penalty. Employers who fail to offer full-time employees and their dependents affordable coverage with a minimum value also will face penalties in 2014.
Mercer acknowledged that the contentious political debate that has surrounded the law since its inception is likely to continue, but the New York-based company urged employers to not delay implementation on that basis.
"Employers can expect a spike in plan enrollment for 2014 as a result of the individual mandate,” said David Rahill, president of Mercer's Health and Benefits business. “But they may see enrollment level off once the state exchanges become operational.”
In the near term, employers also must report the value of employer coverage on IRS Form W-2. They must cap dollar limits on health care flexible spending arrangements and increase Medicare withholding for high earners - those earning more than $200,000 per year.
Employers must also comply with the reforms already in effect, such as coverage of dependents up to age 26.
By 2014, health insurance exchanges will be operating in every state, offering community-rated insurance to certain small employers and individuals, with federal premium tax credits available to help some people buy that coverage.
“Any employers who have not yet conducted a ‘health care reform check-up' should make that their first order of business," said Sharon Cunninghis, senior partner and leader of Mercer's U.S. Health and Benefits business. "Employers also should continue to monitor actions of Congress and Administration, especially in light of the November elections.”