Obamacare: when do employers have to start offering health plans

Will churches have to start providing a health plan in 2013?  I work for a church with five employees, but the church is part of a much larger denomination.  I know that employees at the other churches get a health plan, but our congregation cannot afford it.

Praying for Coverage

Dear Praying for Coverage,

First of all, the employer mandate under health reform does not begin until January 1, 2014. Even in 2014, not all employers will be required to offer a health plan. Only employers who have 50 or more full-time employees face a penalty if they do not offer a plan. Counting employees is a very technical process — seasonal employees who work less than 120 days a year don’t count, but year-round part-timers count as a fraction of a full-timer.  In your case, the employer would be your church – not all of the churches in the denomination – unless someone could show that all of the churches were commonly controlled.  Assuming that each church has its own board of trustees and manages its own financial matters, it’s likely that each church is its own employer for health reform purposes.

You will have new options for buying health insurance on your own in 2014.  You will be able to go to an exchange and easily compare different plans.  Start watching for information in the fall of 2013.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.