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Healthcare Reform’s Impact on the Workplace

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding Obama’s healthcare reform initiatives – specifically, the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring every qualifying citizen to purchase a minimum level of health insurance – the ramifications of this historical legislation will no doubt be significant. For employees, there is good news: beginning in 2014, all employers with more than 50 full-time employees must provide their employees with health insurance.

However, the implications of universal health care coverage also have some consequences. For example, the penalty small business face for not providing their employees with coverage ($2,000 per employee) may, in some circumstances, be a lower cost than actually providing health insurance to employees. Fortunately, employees who are not offered affordable health insurance coverage by their employers will receive an income-indexed premium and out-of-pocket cost-sharing subsidies. These subsidies will ensure that low-income workers are not disadvantaged over higher-income employees when trying to obtain health insurance.

Some employers have also tried to become creative by classifying their employees as independent contractors to avoid the 50 employee mark. However, where employers continue to pay workers in the same manner, this reclassification runs afoul of both federal and state laws. Employers who improperly classify workers as independent contractors may be subject to violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.

For more information about the Affordable Care Act, and the provisions most relevant to you, visit the federal government’s website, HealthCare.gov.