Do you have more than 50 employees understanding obamacare’s employer mandate electricity jokes riddles

Soon, businesses that employ 50 or more full-time-equivalent (FTE) workers will have to offer insurance coverage or face a tax penalty, called the "employer shared responsibility payment." This law, known as Obamacare’s "employer mandate" will take effect in 2015 or 2016, depending on the size of the business.

Employers with 100 or more full-time employees will have to offer coverage to at least 70% of eligible workers in 2015. That number jumps to 95% in 2016. Employers who employ 50 to 99 full-time workers do not have to comply with the law until 2016.

For example, say you employ 105 full-time workers and don’t offer a qualifying health plan. If just one of those workers can buy an individual health insurance plan at NY State of Health and qualify for reduced premiums with Obamacare’s tax credit, you’ll have to pay a penalty — and it could be a hefty one.

On the other hand, if you offer coverage to your employees that is considered affordable and meets the legal requirements for coverage, your employees wouldn’t be able to save money by purchasing an individual plan in the marketplace, so you won’t have to pay the penalty.

Under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), a full-time employee is defined as one who works an average of 30 hours per week, or at least 130 hours per month. Your business’s number of full-time-equivalent employees is determined by adding together the hours of full- and part-time employees. For instance, if you have four employees who work 15 hours per week, that equals two full-time employees.

Under Obamacare, coverage is considered affordable if it costs no more than 9.5% of your employee’s household income. (This calculation is based on modified gross adjusted income.) Of course it isn’t possible for you to determine this exact figure for each employee. As a rough guide, you can assume that your business offers affordable coverage if each employee’s monthly contribution to employee-only health insurance doesn’t exceed 9.5% of the wages reported on their W-2 form. Does Your Plan Cover Enough?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a minimum value calculator to help you determine whether a plan covers 60% of costs. To use this calculator, you’ll supply information like copays and deductibles to come up with the final value. But be forewarned: The calculator is a complex Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Look for the "User Guide" tab before you get started.

If you do offer coverage, but it doesn’t meet the requirements described above, the annual penalty is $3,000 for each full-time employee who qualifies for reduced premiums under Obamacare. (To learn more about who qualifies for cost-saving subsidies, see Ways to Save Money on Obamacare in New York.)

If you used the marketplace to purchase a plan last year. Most people who purchased their 2016 insurance plan from an online marketplace will be able to automatically renew their coverage for 2017. While automatic renewal sounds convenient, it has serious downsides:

While allowing yourself to be automatically re-enrolled is better than going without insurance, it’s best to take advantage of open enrollment and research your options. Shop around and evaluate new plans and costs. Even if you decide to stay with the plan you have, you can use open enrollment to confirm your personal information and ensure you’re getting the right amount of financial aid.

If you purchased an individual or family insurance plan outside the online marketplace. As long as the plan meets Obamacare’s coverage requirements, you can keep it. Or, you may use NY State of Health to compare plans and replace it. If you keep your current plan, you won’t be eligible for the cost-saving subsidies available for plans purchased through the exchange.

If you have insurance through an employer. As long as you’re happy with your plan, you can keep it. You’re considered covered under Obamacare. On the other hand, if you’re not satisfied with the coverage you have, you may be able to switch to an individual plan through NY State of Health.

• You may not qualify for cost-saving subsidies, even if your income falls within the eligible range. If your employer offers coverage that is considered affordable and sufficient under the law, you won’t qualify to save on premiums or out-of-pocket costs for plans purchased through NY State of Health.

Some states, says Renauer, are hiding the ball when it comes to the new options for healthcare coverage under Obamacare. Missouri, for example, has not created an insurance marketplace (exchange), forbids state officials from cooperating with the federal government, and provides no information. “It is being run like a covert operation, with no marketing or detailed information about its products or their prices,” wrote the New York Times. ( Missouri Citizens Face Obstacles to Coverage, Aug. 2, 2013.)

After receiving his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1985, Albin Renauer worked for various public-interest law firms in the Bay Area and as a staff attorney for Chief Justice Rose Bird of the California Supreme Court. He spent 17 years as an editor at leading do-it-yourself legal publisher Nolo, where he helped create numerous books and software programs, including the bestselling Quicken WillMaker. He also edited Law on the Net, the first online directory of legal resources, and was the architect of Nolo’s Webby Award winning website. About Shae Irving

Shae Irving has been a legal editor and writer since 1994, when she joined Nolo, specializing in estate planning, health care, and family law issues. For almost a decade, she was the managing editor of Nolo’s bestselling Quicken WillMaker software. Her books include Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for California and Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair and Lasting Contract. Shae graduated from Berkeley Law and briefly practiced at a large San Francisco law firm before becoming an editor and author. For More Information