Affordable Care Act Implementation -
How it can affect retail employers and how to prepare
With insurance premiums skyrocketing for years, NRF has long advocated reform that would make health care more accessible by making it more affordable. Instead, the Affordable Care Act does little to reduce costs and emphasizes mandates that will drive up expenses for employers. Beginning in 2015, large businesses – those with 50 or more workers – will be required to provide insurance to full-time workers at coverage levels determined by the government or be faced with large fines. The costs of the mandates are so high some retailers could be forced to stay under the 50-employee threshold in order to avoid being covered, and others could have to cut workers’ hours so they won’t count as full-time.
Why It Matters to Retailers
While retailers will see the same added payroll costs as other industries, compliance will be particularly complicated because of the nature of retail’s workforce. Retailers employ not just permanent, full-time workers, but also a large number of part-time, seasonal and temporary workers. Certain provisions of the law, such as its 30-hour definition of full-time and a requirement that insurance be provided within 90 days of being hired, could prove problematic under those conditions. As an industry with extremely tight profit margins, retailers will not be able to absorb the added costs, and could be forced to lay off workers.
NRF Advocates for True Health Care Reform
NRF has long been committed to helping find a solution, and proposed a comprehensive health care reform plan in 2008. While some elements supported by NRF can be seen in the Affordable Care Act, NRF opposed passage because of the law’s failure to adequately address health care costs and its job-killing employer mandate. NRF has worked to repeal the most onerous provisions of the health care law, such as the employer mandate, but those efforts have not yet succeeded. In the meantime, NRF leads a number of coalitions on health care reform and is focusing on efforts to smooth implementation and help retailers with compliance. Among other measures, NRF supports legislation that would define full-time as 40 hours rather than 30, and a bill that would have the law apply to businesses with 100 or more employees rather than 50.
The infamous portal to the Federal Fallback Marketplace (exchange). Online marketplace for individuals and businesses with 50 or fewer employees.
- June 2013: NRF testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: Hearing on “Challenges Facing America’s Businesses Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PDF)
- February 2013: NRF testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation: Hearing on: “The Power of Transparency: Giving Consumers the Information They Need to Make Smart Choices in the Health Insurance Marketplace” (PDF)
- September 2012: NRF testimony before the House Committee on Ways and Means: Hearing on "Implementation of Health Insurance Exchanges and Related Provisions" (PDF)
NRF articles and webinars
- Latest news, commentary, and analysis on Retail's BIG Blog
- July 2013: Choices and Consequences Under the Affordable Care Act (members-only on-demand webinar replay)
- Affordable Health Benefits Coalition – NRF-chaired coalition of allied business interests focused on the cost of medical care and health insurance coverage
- Employers for Flexibility in Health Care Coalition (E-Flex):
Letter to the IRS on ACA employer reporting mandates (PDF)
Washington Council Ernst & Young’s reference deck on ACA employer requirements (PDF)
- The Affordable Coverage Project – Coalition working to repeal the ACA health insurance tax