Businesses have decisions to make on health care plans

With the certainty ongoing rollout of Obamacare in the coming year, Gerald Frye, president of The Benefit Services Group in Pewaukee, advises employers to focus their immediate attention on exchange notifications they must give employees and internal assessments of their health care plans in the face of reform.

Moving forward under Obamacare, businesses need to be aware of Affordable Health Insurance Exchanges that will be available beginning Jan. 1, 2014, said Frye.

“This change coming in 2014 puts some real emphasis on the individual market,” Frye said. “It gives employers an opportunity in a real way to decide they may not provide care. They may take on penalties for not sponsoring a plan, and they could give their employees some money to go to the exchange.”

The exchanges will create state and federal marketplaces where both individual consumers and small businesses can compare health plans, find answers to health care questions and learn if they’re eligible for certain health programs or tax credits.

Employers must give written notice of the availability of the exchanges to their workers starting March 1. Exchanges will need to be ready for open enrollment beginning Oct. 1.

Employers need to complete this assessment by June or July 2013 so that senior level executives have adequate time to make a decision about the health care plans they will pursue before the exchanges open for enrollment in October. Completing assessments by mid-year will also give companies’ human resources departments time to process the changes on a logistical level and will allow companies time to provide their employees with necessary resources to make the transition in health care coverage.

“If you’re going to suddenly pull the rug out, you need to give some advanced notice (to employees),” Frye said.

Employers’ assessment and long-term planning should also take into consideration the “Cadillac tax,” according to Frye. Starting in 2018, companies self-insuring their own plans will be hit with a 40 percent excise tax if their plan exceeds $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for families.

Health Care Trends

  • Employers must pay attention to notice requirements related to Affordable Insurance Exchanges.
  • Businesses should assess how their current health care practices and plans intersect with reform legislation.
  • Employers must take note of the “Cadillac tax.”

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