Gloversville gets Obamacare details

GLOVERSVILLE – A Troy firm gave a presentation to the Common Council recently, urging the city to be aware of its administrative requirements under the federal Affordable Care Act.

John Millet, president and chief executive officer of Bouchey & Clarke Benefits Inc., noted the city is liable as a large employer to insure full-time workers are offered insurance under the act, also referred to as Obamacare. Large employers employ at least 50 full-time workers.

“It’s important to make sure all your full-time employees are offered health insurance,” Millet told the council at City Hall.

The council made no decision last week whether to hire the company to assist the city.

The federal statute signed into law in March 2010 includes multiple provisions over years, including expansion of Medicaid eligibility, establishment of health-insurance exchanges, and prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Large employers must offer minimum essential coverage to substantially cover all full-time employees or pay a penalty.

Area municipalities are using private firms to make sure they meet federal requirements. The Johnstown Common Council and Fulton County Board of Supervisors since late last year both hired Benetech Inc. of North Greenbush, Rensselaer County, to stay on top of their requirements.

Millet said penalties under the Affordable Care Act will be delayed until 2015. He said full-time employees are defined under the act as providing the city an average of 30 hours of service per week, equivalent to 130 hours per month.

He said the city must by 2015 offer coverage to 70 percent of its full-time employees. By 2016 and beyond, the city must offer coverage to 95 percent of its full-time employees.

Millet said the city must also offer coverage that is affordable. The employee’s contribution for self-only coverage can’t exceed 9.5 percent of their income. The plan is also supposed to provide at least minimal value, such as covering at least 60 percent of costs on average.

Millet said that beginning in 2018, a 40 percent excise tax will be imposed on the aggregate cost of health coverage exceeding a certain threshold: $10,000 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. He referred to it as a “Cadillac tax.”

“That’s one we’ve got to keep our eyes on,” Millet said.

Millet said voluntary reporting to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on act progress for 2014 is encouraged. But he said required reporting begins in early 2016 for calendar year 2015 to administer the large employer-shared responsibility penalty and the individual mandate.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com