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Affordable Care Act: Next Steps — Vital Health Policy Changes You NEED To Know

Earlier this month, the Chamber held it’s Affordable Care Act, Next Steps breakfast, part of a developing series to keep you informed on the many nuances of and changes required by the new health care law. At the breakfast, audience members heard from Kenn Penn, President & CEO of Chamber Solutions, and a panel of local health care experts, Laura Clark, Clark Benefit Services; Richard Nagel, Neighbor’s Keeper; and Nathan Van Genderen, CFO, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.
What we learned was eye-opening and, in some cases, startling information all businesses need to be aware of in preparing for the new health care law’s impact. During Mr. Penn’s presentation, he shared slides that provided a great, simple overview of the law, including what has already taken effect and what is on the horizon. We encourage you to review those slides here. Also, below is summary of the key take-aways – things you need to be aware of and take action on for your business.
What you should have done already:

  • In Sept. 2012, all employers should have distributed a summary of benefits and coverage and the Uniform Glossary. Did you?
  • For 2012 tax year, employers with 250 or greater employees should have reported the cost of employer sponsored health coverage on all employee W-2s in Jan. 2013. Starting in 2014, ALL employers, regardless of size, must do this.

What you need to do NOW:
By Oct. 1, 2013, ALL employers MUST provide notification to all employees of access to Health Benefit Exchanges, whether or not you provide employer assisted healthcare. These notifications must be “culturally and linguistly appropriate” therefore, if you are in the Cities of Manassas or Manassas Park, this notification must be given in BOTH English and Spanish. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in a financial penalty on the employer. It is important to note that the U.S. Dept of Labor is cracking down and closely monitoring this compliance. Model notices can be found on the US DOL website here. More information on all of the required notices can be found here.
Open enrollment for the Health Care Exchange is Oct. 1 – Dec. 15, 2013 for a Jan. 1, 2014 effective date. For a Feb 1, 2014 effective date, enrollment is Dec 15 – 31, 2013. If individuals miss this deadline and are uninsured as of Jan 1, 2014, they will be assessed a penalty of $95 or 1% of income (dependant on income level) – this is the Individual Mandate and Penalty that takes effect Jan 1, 2014.
What’s coming up:

  • Starting in 2014, the eligibility waiting period for employer sponsored health insurance is capped at 90 days (most insurers are moving to a 60 day cap to make sure compliance is met).
  • The small employer exchanges – SHOP plans – will open in 2014. This is open to employers with 50 or fewer employees. It was designed to give small businesses and their employees options for health insurance however, only one plan with one carrier has been approved so if you choose this route for your business, your employees will likely see less choice.
  • The Small Employer Tax credit increases in 2014 to 50% for for-profit businesses; 35% for non-profit, however you must participate in the SHOP to get the tax credit.
  • Rate shock is likely coming in 2014. With the rating reforms, benefit changes and additional taxes on insurers going into effect, businesses and individuals are expected to see major increases in insurance rates, with rates going down for the elderly at the same time.

Stay informed for your business. You can visit this website for more general Affordable Care Act information, tools and calculators.