Navigating the Minefields of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Source: Kevin J. Smith, Employment Relations Today, Vol 41 Issue 2, Summer 2014
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Over four years ago, on March 23, 20 10, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama. The stated purpose of the Act is to improve the availability, quality, and affordability of health insurance coverage in the United States. An important part of the Act is to attempt to reform employment-based health insurance coverage. The Act contains several provisions to “encourage employer sponsored health coverage, including an employer mandate for insurance, an employer penalty for not providing health insurance, a tax credit to increase the affordability of health care for small firms, and a small-business health insurance exchange designed to increase plan options and lower plan costs. As a result, employers seem to be taking the brunt of the effects of the Act. Moreover, various parts of the Act were supposed to go into effect already, while others are supposed to go into effect in the future, by design, or because of delays in enforcement. Whatever the reason for the delays, they have caused considerable uncertainty for employers. As a result, some employers may make decisions that have unintended consequences, or, if they are not careful, cause them to violate the Act and pay exorbitant penalties. …