This is a great article by Sue Wakamoto-Lee in Employee Benefit Adviser on how the transitional OBAMACARE rules ending and what it means for some businesses:
“Here’s what’s happening. When the government passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it established minimum standards for health insurance in the United States. Essentially, if an insurer wants to be able to sell you a policy, it needs to provide essential coverage in a number of different areas – such as hospitalization and maternity services – in return for your monthly premiums.
This rule went into effect in 2014, and any new group insurance policies bought after that point were required to be compliant with the new rules. But the government also created a waiver –“transitional relief” in government parlance – to allow small businesses to renew their existing plans without having to switch to a new plan. That waiver has been extended several times, but regulators announced in February that the waiver will be ending on December 31, 2017.
The first step is to figure out whether this applies to your business.
If your business signed up for a new health insurance plan after January 1, 2014 (or in some cases, after October 1, 2013), you’re all set. Similarly, if you’re in one of 15 states plus Washington, D.C. that have already started enforcing the new rules, your health insurance plan has already been required to comply with the new standards.
At the other end of the spectrum, if your business has been around for a little while and you’ve been on the same health insurance plan since before the ACA was signed into law (March 23, 2010) you also don’t need to worry about the new deadline. Your old policy was grandfathered under the law, and you can keep renewing it. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may want to consider switching to a new plan anyway – as some businesses have found the new policies have saved them money – but the law isn’t going to require you to do anything at this point.”