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October 2013 Issue


Quick Poll – Review

October Quick Poll – Vote

Contact Information


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Ten Things You and Your Employees Should Know About ACA

Fall is always a busy time for those whose job includes coordinating healthcare benefits. This year, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka the ACA or Obamacare) has made the open enrollment season even more hectic than usual. To complicate the situation, a new Health Tracking Poll by The Kaiser Family Foundation found that four out of every 10 American adults aren’t even aware that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still the law of the land and being implemented.

We know you're better prepared. By now, you have hopefully communicated with your employees about the ACA and double checked your plans to make sure they comply with necessary rules. With that in mind, here are a few additional tips to help you, and your employees, move forward:


  1. Remember "50" - Even though the government has delayed the large-business mandate for a year, businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees must soon provide "affordable" health insurance with "minimum essential coverage" to their workers or eventually face a penalty. Small businesses, defined as having anywhere from two to 50 employees, are not required to provide their workers with health insurance.
  2. Update your "new hire file." Each time you hire new employees they need to be notified about ACA specifics. Just like you told your current employees before October 1, the notification should inform new employees about what the marketplace is, that they may be able to buy cheaper insurance through the marketplace, and that if they choose a marketplace plan they may lose any employer contribution to their coverage.
  3. Don't forget the affordability equation. To be considered affordable, the premiums of any coverage provided by employers must not exceed 9.5 percent of the worker's income. (That is the income on Box 1 of an employee’s W2.)
  4. Be sure to take advantage of the small business tax credit if you qualify. Employers who provide health insurance and have less than 25 full-time employees can get a tax credit of up to 35 percent in 2013 or 25 percent for nonprofits. This can increase up to 50 percent — 35 percent for nonprofits — in 2014, with companies who have fewer employees seeing the largest tax credit.
  5. Call NIHP if you need help. We have in-depth knowledge of the ACA. Please give us a call if you need to better navigate through this kick-off year and keep your healthplan compliant, cohesive, and consumer-friendly.


  1. Remind employees that Obamacare is the law and the individual mandate is still in place. They need to know that all individuals must have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014, in order to avoid a tax penalty. In 2014 that price is the higher of $95 or 1% of taxable income. (Note: Many are pushing for penalty delays due to ACA website issues. NIHP will let you know if and when delays become official.)
  2. You’ve already announced to employees that health exchanges will be available and they can waive employee-sponsored coverage (if it’s offered to them) and buy a policy on an exchange. Be sure they understand that exchange coverage may begin as soon as January 1 and tell them again whether or not your company will help pay for exchange coverage (most employers will not). In some circumstances exchanges are a good deal – in others, employees will have to pay more.
  3. Explain buzzwords like "exchanges," "subsidies," and "gold, silver, and bronze plans." Even though you have been hearing the words constantly, they are new to many folks who dwell outside the benefits realm.
  4. Keep it current. No one needs to worry about what’s coming in 2018. Focus on what is happening now … and maybe next year. Clarify what next steps your employees need to take by the end of 2013. Inform them about provisions such as deductibles, copayments, and premiums, particularly if these have changed in the past year.
  5. Tell employees why you offer benefits to them. Is it because you want to attract the best talent, take care of people you think of as "family," or stay competitive? Say so. Your employees will appreciate your honest interest in them.


3 things you need to tell workers about health care reform
HR Morning, August 9, 2013

10 things to remind your employees about ACA
EBN Benefit News, October 2013

Pssst.. have you had the ACA talk with your employees?
Custom Communications, August 21, 2013

What businesses need to know about ACA
PNJ.com, September 28, 2013

What do employers need to know about the ACA marketplace notices?
Mondaq, September 19, 2013

A Quick Review of Last Issue's "Quick Poll"

In the July 2013 issue of E to E we asked readers, "Do you plan to increase your benefit communications this year because of the Affordable Care Act?" Specific survey results are noted in the chart, below.

July Quick-Poll Summary

October Quick Poll – Vote

Have your employees asked you many questions about the Affordable Care Act?
(Click a response to vote. Answers are strictly anonymous.)

Then, visit the NIHP website to view this issue's quick poll results.

For more information contact us at:
(800) 723-0202 or NIHPCustomerService@fhn.org

Northern Illinois Health Plan

773 W. Lincoln Blvd, Suite 402, Freeport, IL 61032

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