Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What you need to know about the Affordable Care Act

You may already know that the US Supreme Court upheld a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes called Obamacare because the proposal originated from President Obama’s administration. The ACA comprises the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

But what does this new law mean to you? It depends on who you are. The law has different implications for different groups of people. In this and following posts, I will address what the ACA means to employers, seniors on Medicare, and healthcare consumers.

According to the national Association of Healthcare Underwriters, The primary goals of the ACA are to:
“(i) expand coverage to an estimated 32 million Americans without health insurance;
(ii) reform the delivery system to improve quality and drive efficiency; and
(iii) lower the overall costs of providing health care.”

Under this law, all Americans are to have some minimum level of health care coverage. Those who do not comply will pay a fine. This is sometimes referred to as the individual mandate.

Michigan will participate in the National Health Care Exchanges, which is designed to be a place where people who do not have affordable coverage through an employer can find a health plan option and comply with the law.

In addition to the so-called individual mandate, insurers cannot exclude people from coverage if they have pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or even cancer. And dependent children can stay on their parents’ coverage through age 26.

Most of the provisions that take effect in 2012 and 2013 involve Medicare and hospital reporting. Most of the provisions that affect employers take effect in 2014. I will focus on those first and examine the Medicare changes in another post.

By 2014

• All employers with 50 or more full-time employees must provide certain minimum health care benefits or they will pay penalty fees.

• Changes to the employer and insurer reporting requirements will be implemented

If you do not currently offer health care coverage, and you employ 50 or more full-time workers, now is the time to find a health plan that fits your needs and budget. If you have less than 50 employees, you may want to consider offering a plan, or your employees will have to participate in the Health Care Exchanges if they do not have coverage through a spouse or parent.

Also, by 2018, the government will impose an excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored coverage. It has not yet been determined what level constitutes high-cost. We will be sure to share that information with you once it becomes available.

We do not yet know if or how much these changes will affect the cost of employer-sponsored health plans. If you have questions about your plan, please contact us.

No comments:

Post a Comment