Once again, we received 3 new updates that we thought might interest you, and they are summarized for you below, along with links to the original articles:

* An article in Benefits News answered “The Top Three Questions Asked By Small Business Owners”:
Question 1: “When does the Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) provision go into effect?”
Answer: “For employers with 100 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, enforcement begins Jan. 1, 2015. For qualified employers with 50 to 99 full-time and FTE employees, the assessment of penalties has been delayed until 2016. To qualify for this transition relief, these employers must meet certain conditions” which are listed in the article.

Question 2: “For ESR, what is required to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service?”
Answer: Although you can see the article for some of the answers, we recommend going straight to the Treasury Department’s March 2014 Fact Sheet.

Question 3: “When do employers subject to ESR reporting requirements need to file information with the IRS?”
Answer: The easy answer is within the first quarter, but since there are so many different dates, please check the article for all of the specific dates within the first quarter.

* A second article on the same day says, “Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, large employers are required to provide affordable coverage beginning in 2015 or potentially face penalties. For 2014, the definition of affordability was set at 9.5% of the employee’s income.” The article goes on to say that the definition of “affordable” can change each year.

* According to another article in Benefits News, “Employers say the Affordable Care Act is driving the costs of their medical plans higher…” and thus encouraging them to hire more part-time employees. In fact: “Nearly 25 percent of the (survey) respondents indicated they are considering the elimination of employer-sponsored plans…and 25.7 percent of the respondents indicating they have already reduced expenditures or are considering such action on dental, vision and life coverage as a result of the ACA’s impact on medical plan costs…The survey found that employers are taking steps to control the cost of health insurance by either increasing contributions and/or reducing benefit levels…Employers appear to be frustrated with the complexities, costs and administrative burdens imposed by the ACA and increasingly considering the elimination or reduction of employee benefit plans.”

Are you seeing these changes in your employee benefits?

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We look forward to helping you navigate the insurance maze!

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