Presenters at the 50th Colorado Farm Show in Greeley said the complex requirements of the Health Care Reform Act are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future, so farmers who have fewer than 50 employees should prepare to comply by 2015.
Kevin Paul, an attorney with Heizer Paul LLP in Denver, said even with more than 20 years of experience in the legal profession, he’s finding the thousands of pages in the law to be difficult to interpret.
“I spent a day this past weekend trying to figure out two sentences in one regulation and how they were going to be implemented,” he said.
For farmers, even figuring out if they comply will be challenging, Paul said.
Even if an employer has fewer than 50 full-time employees, Paul said that person still needs to figure in full-time equivalents — or the number of employees needed to work the hours that part-time employees do.
Paul said employers need to be wary of assuming that employees of two separate companies will be counted separately. He said it’s best to contact an insurance professional or an attorney.
“Don’t do this at home,” said.
Those who do fall under new health care requirements don’t necessarily have to provide health care options to their employees, Paul said. If they choose to offer health care coverage, it must be affordable — not more than 9.5 percent of annual income — to each employee in order to meet health care law requirements.
Employers who choose not to offer coverage must pay a shared responsibility payment, which is about $2,000 per year for all but 30 employees, Paul said.
The trick for employers will be to figure out which decision is most economical, Paul said. Employers may visit connectforhealthco.com to see what plans are available and how much they will cost.
Regardless of whether or not employers have 50 or more employees, all employers will be required to give written notice to each new employee of whether or not they offer health care options. Paul said farmers can bank on having to comply with the new health care law, as those in the health care industry have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars to meet requirements.
Per an extension, employers must be in compliance by Jan. 1, 2015.
“Health care reform has happened,” he said. “It’s already taken place. I don’t see it changing anytime soon.” ❖