Health care plan sponsors need to begin preparing this year for the Affordable Health Act's 2014 implementation of the employer mandate and public exchanges.

The employer mandate applies only to large employers with 50 or more full-time employees, which will be required to offer minimum health care coverage that is affordable. Companies need to determine in 2013 whether they are large employers and, therefore, subject to the mandate.

"If they offer coverage in 2014, the coverage must meet the minimum value standards and the contributions the employer requires of employees cannot be so high the coverage is unaffordable relative to the employee's household income," said Jean C. Hemphill, Practice Leader of Ballard Spahr's Health Care Group.

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