The Current Status of the ACA Employer Mandate: 2018

Updated December 10, 2020

There has been much to do around the Affordable Care Act: from passing the law under President Obama, to trying to repeal the law under President Trump. This has left many people confused as to where we are at now – what is the current status of the ACA?

The short answer is: The ACA remained in full force for 2019, especially as it relates to US employers, and for now, remains in effect for 2020 and beyond. Even the individual mandate (requiring individuals to have ACA-compliant health coverage or else pay a penalty) remained in force for 2019 – a surprise to many.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (aka the new tax law) touted repealing the health law. However:

  • It made no changes to the ACA employer mandate.
  • It did repeal the individual mandate but only in the sense that the penalties are reduced to zero and this repeal only goes into effect in 2019!

ACA Employer Mandate 101 – including some 2020 changes

The ACA employer mandate remained in place for 2019 and all the compliance rules still apply. Nearing year-end and 2020 tax reporting, this would be a good time to run through the specifics of the employer mandate: who has to comply, how and when to comply, and what the repercussions are if you don’t comply.

Who must comply?

The ACA Employer Mandate applies to all Applicable Large Employers or ALEs. The act defines ALEs as US employers having 50 or more full-time employees (or equivalents) in the previous tax year. Companies that are affiliates or are commonly controlled are treated as one employer for the purpose of determining ALE status. That means that they must combine their numbers for the full-time employee total. Learn more by watching our video: Does Your Business have to comply with the ACA?

What do you need to do to comply and when do you need to do it?

Employers must comply with 2 different rules:

  • The ACA Coverage Mandat