Companies coping with employer mandate

Firms cutting hours, shifting workers to exchanges to cope with costs

As of Jan. 1, the employer mandate is in effect for companies with more than 100 full-time workers. Employers must now offer insurance plans that are both "affordable" and "comprehensive."

To be considered affordable, the plan's premiums cannot cost an employee more than 9.56 percent of his or her income, according to CNN Money. To be considered comprehensive, the plan must pay for at least 60 percent of the staff's collective medical expenses and cover a variety of health benefits.

If companies done't offer coverage, the fine for this year is $174 a month times the number of full-time workers (minus 80 workers). If the company's insurance is neither affordable or comprehensive, based on the aforementioned requirements, the employer must pay $261 a month for each employee, noted CNN.

To avoid the mandate and the hefty penalties, business are hiring more part-time workers and cutting the hours of their full-time employees, reported USA Today. In addition, many employers are shifting their workers onto private insurance exchanges, with the hopes of providing their employees with more choices while controlling rising healthcare costs, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Even businesses with fewer than 100 employees are feeling the heat, as those that do offer health insurance must now offer mental and other health services as well, noted USA Today. This boosts premiums.

For Mike DeVoge, owner of a 12-employee marina in Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania, the cost of insuring six eligible workers increased 40 percent this year and most likely will rise another 60 percent in 2016, he told USA Today. Because of this, DeVoge is expecting to drop benefits in a year. 

For more:
- here's the CNN Money piece
- read the USA Today article

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