Obamacare employer penalties might reach $31 billion in 2016

Analysts say that “unintentionally non-compliant” employers could be adding $10 billion in penalties for companies not meeting requirements for worker insurance under Obamacare. 

That would spike the 2016 projected penalty total as high as $31 billion — three times the 2015 total and about 50% greater than previously projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

The newly discovered group includes employers that offer health coverage as required but do not report their compliance to the IRS, Accenture researchers said.

Penalties could be piling up for employers who are unaware that they incurred penalties the previous year, explained Scott Brown, managing director of payer consulting at Accenture. He cautioned that even if Republican lawmakers and President-elect Trump follow through on promises to repeal Obamacare, employers will nonetheless retain responsibilities in this area for a while.

“It is likely that some version of employer reporting will continue to persist, whether in short term or longer term, and that said, it's very important for employers to have a solution in place to minimize future exposure,” Brown said in a Bloomberg BNA report.

Despite a gloomy outlook for the Affordable Care Act, any replacement law could still include advanceable refundable tax credits, legal experts added. That would keep employer reporting relevant, they say.

Employers with more than 50 full-time employees must offer health insurance to avoid penalties under the ACA. In addition, for the 2016 benefit year, there are two sets of criteria that employers must satisfy, ranging from percentage of employees offered coverage, to value and affordability of benefits offered.