As we ring in 2013, employers should be focused on measuring their obligations under the shared responsibilities provisions of PPACA. On December 28, we got two additional pieces of guidance that tie together various prior notices relating to minimum essential coverage, measuring employees and potential liabilities. The IRS has given us the proposed rule on Shared Responsibilities for Employer Regarding Health Coverage and some questions and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
What the IRS has provided is consistent with prior advice, but it does clarify some key points. Not the least of which is that while these rules do not go into effect until January 1, 2014, employers should be using the 2103 plan year as their basis for collecting information relevant to their compliance obligation. There is also clarification that, when determining whether or not employers have 50 or more employees, companies with common ownership are treated as a single entity. There is further clarification that, for determining the 50-employee threshold, an employer only counts those employees employed in the United States. The FAQs also promise that a calculator is being developed to determine whether coverage offered meets the "minimum value" to be qualified health coverage.
The release of this information continues to underline the importance of counting employees and measuring their hours to see if they are full or part-time under the definitions provided in PPACA. Employers should start counting now and avoid any last minute confusion over their status or their obligations. As more guidance is issued, we can fine tune these measurements. But don't get caught short at year end having failed to manage your population.