By Jenny Sherman, SPHR CCP, Director of HR Services, Trupp HR.
Navigating the Affordable Care Act is tricky business with its rapidly evolving landscape, but part of the healthcare legislation and its support structure aims to ease the journey to compliance. Oregon employers will be pleased to know that because our state is ahead of the curve in its implementation efforts, we are receiving national recognition and aid. Cover Oregon was recently awarded a federal grant of $226.4 million to help the organization become fully operational. Cover Oregon is a central online marketplace where individuals, families, and small businesses can shop for and compare healthcare coverage options and access financial assistance, starting in October 2013. Coverage for plans purchased through Cover Oregon will be effective January 1, 2014.
The Affordable Care Act addresses employers with 50 or more full time equivalent employees. The calculation for determining full time equivalent employees requires an employer to add up all of the hours worked by employees each month and divide them by 120. For example, two employees routinely working 20 hours per week in a month will create one full time equivalent (FTE). This requirement affects employers with seasonal employees who typically exceed three months of work each year; it requires that employees who work 30 or more hours a week are covered by the employer’s healthcare plan; and has several “periods” of time during which the employer must perform analyses in order to determine employee eligibility for the benefits. Learn more about the standard measurement period, stability period, and administrative period.
Initially, the State’s Cover Oregon program is intended to assist Oregon employers with fewer than 50 employees. They report that 50% of Oregon employers are small and yet only 34% of employers with under 10 employees are currently offering health insurance benefits. Oregon intends to change this by creating an online marketplace that is easy to use, designed as a “defined contribution model” that offers employees a wide range of choices. In addition, this program will offer some employers tax credits that can help to pay for the cost of the benefit. Cover Oregon is 100% federally funded through 2014 and plans to achieve financial independence by 2015 through administrative fees charged to insurance carriers. Learn more about Cover Oregon options for small business
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