April 2014 Bar Bulletin
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April 2014 Bar Bulletin

What's New for 2014: Health Plan Q&A for Law-Firm Employers

By Ellen Mondress


Q: What happens if an individual doesn't have coverage beginning in 2014?

A: The individual pays a tax. In 2014, the tax is the greater of $95 or 1 percent of household income over the tax-filing threshold, capped at the average bronze-level plan cost. There are a number of exemptions. To view several, go to http://marketplace.cms.gov, and click on the following tabs: "Get official resources," then "Publications & articles," then "Exemption applications." These links and this article were up to date as of March 17.

Q: What happens if an employer doesn't offer health coverage in 2014?

A: Nothing - the employer "play or pay" tax won't be effective until 2015. At that time, large employers (generally those with 50 or more full-time employees) must offer affordable health coverage to full-time employees (and offer coverage to certain dependents) in order to avoid the tax. Certain employers with 50 to 99 full-time employees have until 2016. Smaller employers are not subject to the tax.

Q: If an employee is eligible for health coverage, when must the coverage begin?

A: Beginning this year, coverage must start within 90 days after the employee becomes eligible for coverage. Employers may, however, apply other preconditions, such as requiring that employees work a certain number of hours (up to 1,200) or complete an "orientation period" of up to a month in order to become eligible for coverage.

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