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Despite the Obama administration’s recent delay in implementing the employer mandate, floral business owners still have plenty to do in order to get up to speed with their responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Society of American Florists (SAF) urges industry employers to do the following five things now.

1. Determine if you are a large or a small employer under ACA rules.
Responsibilities are quite different between large employers (50 or more full-time equivalent employees) and small employers (less than 50 employees). For help figuring out your company's size, check out the Business Size Calculator at SAF’s Health Care Resource Center.

2. Know your work force.
Take time to understand the law’s definitions for “full-time” and “seasonal” employees.
Gather the right data so that you can get a clear picture of what you need to do to comply with the law.

3. Learn what employees have to do.
The law requires all Americans to obtain “minimal essential coverage” starting in 2014 or pay a penalty. For 2014, the penalty for individuals who fail to obtain coverage is $95. Some employees may qualify for a tax credit to buy coverage in the new state health care exchanges. If a full-time employee of a large company qualifies for a tax subsidy to buy a plan on an exchange because he or she can’t get affordable coverage at work, the employer will likely face a penalty beginning in 2015.

4. Understand your state exchange.
The state-based health exchange marketplaces are critically important parts of the law. Each state had the option for 2014 of operating its own exchange, partnering with the federal government or having the federal government run the exchange. As of May 28, 2013, 17 states had created their own exchanges; seven states had partnered with the federal government; and 27 states had contracted with the federal government to run the exchanges. Enrollment in the exchanges opens on Oct. 1, 2013. Exchanges will contact employers to verify eligibility when an employee receives a tax credit. You must be prepared to handle inquiries.

5. Think about how to explain the law to employees.
By Oct. 1, 2013, employers must issue written notices to employees telling them about the exchange in their state and how to access it. You should think about who will be the point person in your business when you get questions.

In addition to these five steps, stay in the loop about new developments by visiting SAF’s Health Care Resource Center. You also can contact SAF’s senior director of government relations, Corey Connors, at or 800-336-4743.

Source: Society of American Florists

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