Just last summer, we all waited to see if the Affordable Care Act would be declared unconstitutional by the highest court in the land. It wasn't. Then there was the 2012 election, which some thought would be a game-changer that would have resulted in a repeal of the law. It didn't.

Now, benefit consultants, industry professionals and employers are trying to determine the implications of these mandates that will have the biggest impact on group benefit strategies. One is the so-called "pay-or-play" provision, which would require employers with more than 50 full-time employees to pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee, with increasing penalties in future years, if they choose not to provide a qualified company sponsored health plan. Some companies may decide it's cheaper to stop providing health insurance, and instead pay the penalty or treat employees to a defined contribution that they can use to purchase insurance from a state-run exchange.

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