The NRA's Neblett points out that many questions remain as to how this mandate will ultimately play out, but also reminds operators that sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option. While the law is scheduled to go into effect
Jan. 1, 2014, some aspects of it are active already or will go into effect in 2013. For example, all employers are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires notifying current employees as well as new hires after March 1, 2013, about the existence of the healthcare exchanges and how to access one of these exchanges in their state. "It requires you to tell them about the tax benefits and what's the difference between employer coverage and what they could get on the exchange," she says. "As of now [early November] we're still waiting for Department of Labor guidance on a template that employers could use to do that. We also don't yet know what most of the states are going to do in terms of the exchanges and where operators are sending employees to get the information they'll need."
Despite lingering uncertainty, however, she said the NRA advises its members to learn what the deadlines are – not just for the insurance mandate and reporting provisions but also for taxes that go into effect and for things like new limits on flexible spending accounts, which also go into effect this year. "There are a lot of moving parts to this, and it's critical to make sure you're aware of the full scope of what will be required and when," she says. "Start looking hard at your workforce and evaluating how many employees meet the 30-hour definition of full-time. If you've never offered coverage before and think you might have to comply, start checking out what that might look like. Educate yourself, talk to your insurance broker and your tax advisor. Most important, if you haven't yet taken any of these steps, get started today."