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PPACA Exchanges Open

In compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), state and federal health care exchanges open October 1 for enrollment. As of January 2014, unless specifically exempted, Americans who do not have health insurance will be subject to tax penalties beginning in 2014 and increasing each year that they go without coverage.

PPACA is well intentioned, but with its factors of age, income, geographic status and tobacco use, it is complicated to implement. Furthermore, when contrasted to the benefits of the LIUNA’s multiemployer plans, PPACA’s exchanges do not begin to offer comparable coverage.

Complications of PPACA

PPACA is adding significantly to the responsibilities of all U.S. employers. Although now delayed for one year (until January 2015), the law’s shared responsibility mandate requires large employers (50 or more full-time employees) to provide acceptable and affordable health care options to their employees or pay penalties. Small employers do not face such penalties.

To assure compliance, employers must apply complex formulas to determine the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. If employers with 50 or more FTE employees do not offer minimum essential coverage to at least 95 percent of these employees, they will be subject to a penalty even if just one full-time employee receives subsidized coverage through an exchange.

Signatory employers, on the other hand,¬†already provide¬†benefits for their employees who are LIUNA members through their participation in a LIUNA health and welfare fund. These benefits not only meet PPACA’s minimum essential coverage requirements, they usually exceed them. Based on their collective bargaining agreement with LIUNA, contractors need only report hours worked and submit the corresponding contribution to the health and welfare fund to ensure full compliance with the PPACA.

Advantages of participating with LIUNA’s health and welfare funds include:

  • Removing the stress of figuring out the health care maze
  • Reducing administrative costs through oversight from highly experienced trustees and administrators
  • Meeting the employer shared responsibility requirement and eliminating any employer shared responsibility penalty
  • Pooling risks and resources
  • Allowing tax deductible employer contributions to health and welfare funds

Three new tri-folds summarize the benefits for Laborers, signatory employers and health & welfare fund trustees and are available through the Fund’s online Publications Catalogue:

  • LIUNA Health and Welfare Funds: the Competitive Advantage for Employers
  • The Affordable Care Act and LIUNA’s Health and Welfare Funds’ Trustees
  • The Affordable Care Act, the Individual Mandate and LIUNA Members

For signatory employers, continued participation in a LIUNA health and welfare fund is a win/win situation.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]

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