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ACA Penalties: Insurance Inadequacies Can Cost You

Offering employees health insurance is not enough to avoid the penalties associated with the shared responsibility requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  While many large employers already provide what they believe to be a good health plan for employees, the ACA has set the standard for what is considered adequate and affordable coverage as well as the penalties for non-compliance.

Health Insurance is considered inadequate if it pays less than 60 percent of covered health care expenses and unaffordable if employees have to pay more than 9.5 percent of their household income for single coverage. Since most employers do not have a way of tracking their employees’ household income, the IRS has provided employers a safe harbor whereby they will be considered as having met the insurance affordability obligation if the employee’s insurance is less than 9.5 percent of the employee’s Form W-2, Box 1 income.

In 2014, employees without adequate and affordable coverage can turn to a Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as an exchange, to find and compare private health insurance options. If even one of your employees elects coverage through the exchange, you could be fined an annual penalty of up to $3,000 per full-time employee, or $2,000 per total number of full-time employees (not counting the first 30 employees), whichever is less. The employee’s eligibility for the exchange is also dependent on the employee’s household income. Generally, those who make between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty level would qualify. For 2012, the poverty level was $23,050 for a family of four.

As you can see, for large employers simply providing insurance may not be enough to keep you ACA compliant. Something else to note is that even if you do provide adequate and affordable health insurance to your employees, the ACA and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) still require you to notify employees of the coverage options for the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Sign up for our webinar – Think Your Business is ACA Compliant? – and read our ACA blog post on “Companies with Employer-Sponsored Health Plans Must Still Notify Employees of Exchanges” to learn more.

The content of this blog is intended to keep interested parties informed of legal and industry developments for educational purposes only.  It is not intended as legal opinion or tax advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal or tax advice.