Tag Archives: Group Benefits

5 Ways the Affordable Care Act Affects Small Businesses

Small Businesses have been cited by the White House as the ‘backbone’ of the United States Economy. That backbone of 28 million small employers saw dramatic changes  October 1, when the Health Insurance Exchanges opened, giving way to a new era of Health Care in the United States. So how exactly will the Affordable Care Act, which takes full effect on January 1, 2014 affect the ‘backbone’ of the US Economy? Here are 5 ways America’s small businesses will be affected by ‘Obamacare.’ health care benefits

Health Insurance

First and foremost, the Affordable Care Act provides for every single US citizen to purchase Health Insurance of some form or another come January 1, or else face hefty fines. This is the first step in what is expected to be a long, long road to nationwide coverage, along which businesses, big and small, will have a major role to play.

Come January, big businesses (50 employees or more) will be legally obliged to provide health insurance or pay a tax of $2,000 per employee (for all but the first 30 employees) starting January 2015. Smaller businesses (less than 50 employees) will also have to provide health insurance but will not be subject to fines, provided their employees get tax credits through an exchange. For small businesses with less than 25 employees, a tax credit of 35% will be made available to contribute towards health insurance provision.

Workplace Wellness

The Affordable Care Act will also create new incentives promoting workplace wellness programs, encouraging employers to take greater interest and more opportunities to support the health and well-being of employees. Funding will be provided as part of this preventative measure which has already been embraced by many businesses nationwide.

A study titled ‘Employee Benefits: Today and Beyond’ which surveyed US businesses found that: “almost half of employers (44%) are already increasing the use of wellness programs to improve the health of employees. Among these companies that have already implemented this approach, 33% have been very successful in achieving their desired cost savings.”

The Affordable Care Act will allow Businesses with workplace wellness programs, effective after 1, 2014, an tax credit increase of up to 20%, and a further 10% of the cost of health coverage if programs are designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use.

New Tax Credits

As mentioned above, one of the key factors in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is the introduction of new tax credits, designed to help make Health Insurance readily accessible to US citizens. This includes tax credits for Businesses, aimed at helping employers provide coverage for employees.

The small business tax credit, for example aims to help businesses with less than 50 employees afford the cost of healthcare coverage. The Affordable Care Act aims to raise this tax credit to 35% for by 2015 for businesses that purchase coverage through the SHOP marketplace which opens October,1.

SHOP Marketplaces

Those SHOP (Small Business Health Insurance Options Program) Marketplaces will offer Small Businesses a portal through which to shop for health coverage on a competitive marketplace. These marketplaces include web portals that provide standardized, easy-to-understand information, making comparing and purchasing coverage easier for businesses.

The new SHOP Marketplaces will also allow small groups to pool risks and reduce administrative complexity and subsequently increase their purchasing power while reducing costs.

Employer’s Mandate

All that said and done, the Employer’s Mandate has now been pushed back to 2015, so Businesses will not feel the full effects of the Affordable Care Act for at least another 18 months. Instead, the initial Health Care Reform procedure will be regarded as ‘real-world testing’ ahead of full implementation in 2015. This has caused an increased level of doubt among critics and supporters of how Health Care Reform will take full shape, if at all. Businesses are now in a state of concern thanks to mixed messages. While employers may have initially felt relieved that they would have more time to fully prepare for the introduction of the new legislation, President Obama has hinted that fines could swell for Companies that view the Employer Mandate delay as a let-off.

To conclude, this shroud of uncertainty should prompt employers to consult their Insurance Agents about the Affordable Care Act, its provisions and what it means for their business. The facts are there, it is now up to Businesses to assess the situation and consider what the best Insurance option for them instead of treating the Employer’s Mandate delay as a let-off.

If you are unsure of how the Affordable Care Act will affect your Business, or if you’re unsure of what to look for in the SHOP exchanges, speak to an expert directly for free.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Impact of the Government Shutdown on Healthcare Reform

The U.S. Constitution requires Congress to pass a bill establishing a federal budget, often called a spending bill. For a spending bill to pass, the Senate and the House of Representatives must all agree upon the bill, which must then be approved by the President. When Congress is unable to agree upon a federal budget, or when the President vetoes it, before the budget cycle ends, a government shutdown occurs.

Due to Congress’ inability to reach an agreement on a spending bill, a government shutdown began on Oct. 1, 2013, following the end of the federal government’s fiscal year. Although the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed a spending bill that maintains spending levels, the bill does not provide funding to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Democratic-controlled Senate has refused to take up any bill that does not fully fund the ACA.

What happens during a government shutdown?

Similar to a lockout in the private sector, during a government shutdown, the government stops providing all “non-essential” services. This means that many government functions will stop, and many federal employees will be furloughed.

However, military personnel and essential employees will not be furloughed. In addition, other “essential” government functions and services will continue. These functions and services include:

  • Social Security, Medicare and certain types of veterans’ benefits;
  • National security, including the U.S. military and embassies;
  • Public safety, including air traffic control, emergency medical care, border patrol, federal prisons, most law enforcement, emergency and disaster assistance, overseeing the banking system, operating the power grid and guarding federal property;
  • All agencies with independent sources of funding, including the U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Reserve; and
  • Members of Congress, including essential Congressional staffers (but not those that are non-essential).

Which government agencies are affected?

Nearly all federal agencies will be affected by the government shutdown in some way. The Administration’s Office of Management and Budget has detailed contingency plans that describe each agency’s course of action.

The government estimates that roughly 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed as a result of the government shutdown.

Department of Health and Human Services

HHS said that a government shutdown could mean furloughing 40,512 workers, amounting to 52 percent of HHS employees.

However, the effect that the shutdown will have on each office will vary based on whether the service is essential. For example, those running the Suicide Prevention Lifeline would stay, but those in charge of investigating Medicare fraud would be furloughed. In addition, some parts of HHS will only be partially shut down.

Department of Labor

A majority of the DOL’s employees will be furloughed. About 13,350 employees will be furloughed, amounting to 82 percent of the DOL’s workforce.

Internal Revenue Service

Nearly 90 percent of the IRS’ workforce, or 86,200 workers, are expected to be furloughed. Although Social Security benefit payments, automated revenue collections and daily cash management for the federal government will continue, the IRS will stop performing key functions, including audits, examinations of returns, processing of paper returns and call-center operations for taxpayers with questions.

Certain essential employees, such as law enforcement, will not be furloughed, along with some positions that are paid for by funds outside of Congressional appropriations.

How does the government shutdown impact the ACA?

The government shutdown has very little, if any, impact on the health care reform law, despite efforts to defund the law. Because funding for the ACA was passed by Congress in 2010, the health insurance Exchanges still opened for enrollment on Oct. 1, 2013, and won’t be affected by the government shutdown.

Although the Exchanges are operational despite the government shutdown, technical difficulties may still occur due to a high volume of traffic. When attempting to access Exchange websites on Oct. 1, consumers experienced wait times, glitches and error messages indicating heavy Internet traffic.

IT contractors are currently working to fix the issues. However, the shutdown affects non-essential government workers, which may include some of the IT staff.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Filling Your Employees in on Health Insurance Exchanges

Not only does the Affordable Care Act legislate for every US citizen to purchase Health Insurance of some form or another, it also obliges large and small businesses to provide their employees with Health Insurance. October 1 marks the opening of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplace, which will give employers with 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees a program through which to purchase Health Insurance coverage.02F62387

Effective of October 1, employers are required to provide a notice to employees about the exchange including whether or not they may have access to subsidies if their employer does not offer affordable health care. With the countdown to Health Care Reform now fully underway, employers need to know how to inform their employees about the exchange and how it will affect them.

Focus on the exchange.

The one thing your staff will be most interested in knowing is how they are going to be covered and what they need to do to ensure they are covered. By first explaining that the exchanges are marketplaces where individuals and small employers can buy health insurance, you can give employees a comprehensive insight into what policies are available and what government subsidies will be available to them. Once you explain the ins and outs of the health insurance exchange to your employees, you can instruct them on how you will be providing coverage and what that coverage will include.

What else should you communicate?

As the Affordable Care Act is a quite complicated piece of legislation, it is vital that you don’t over-complicate things when explaining its provisions to your staff. Communicating too much information to employees can create unnecessary confusion and should be avoided. Instead, employers should focus on the present. Refrain from focusing on the long-term and hypothetical situations, as the Affordable Care Act may be subject to reform over the next 5 years.

The most important information to communicate to your employees is the fact that the Affordable Care Act will change many rules about health insurance in 2014. As of January 1, Insurance companies must accept everyone who applies for coverage, regardless of their condition of health. In addition, the law also requires that every individual must be covered or else they will be subject to a hefty fine, come January. By outlining the timeframe of the Affordable Care Act coming into effect, you can ensure your employees are aware of deadlines and fully prepared for them.

HOW should you communicate?

By planning for a consistent communication plan, you can cover how the Health Insurance Exchanges will affect employees in the near future, while accounting for long-term developments. In communicating with employees, it’s important to use all available resources to make information as accessible as possible.

The provisions of the Affordable Care Act can be difficult to throw your head around, but it’s crucially important for employers to get up to speed with how it will affect them and their employees come October 1 and beyond. By analysing the legislation and devising a straight-forward communications strategy, you can ensure your Business is ready when the SHOP exchanges open.

Struggling to throw your head around the Affordable Care Act? By contacting us directly, you can avail of FREE expert advice on how to prepare for Health Care Reform.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Heathcare Reform Will Affect Workers Comp

There has been much speculation about the changing face of health care in the United States since the Affordable Care Act was passed by the Obama Administration in 2010. Divided opinions on the provisions of ‘Obamacare’ have been well-represented by the rife inconsistency across the nation with regards health care exchanges, with some states opting for state-based exchange system, while other states have opted for federal-based initiatives.doctor, clipboard, stethescope

As the October 1 deadline draws nearer, much of the attention has focused on the requirement for all US citizens to carry health insurance coverage and the bearing that will have on employers. The reformed regulations are also expected to affect workers’ compensation insurance but the extent, nature and desirability of this impact remains markedly unclear. In the meantime, here are some changes in Workers’ Compensation we are sure to see.

Fewer claims

Each year, millions of workers’ compensation claims are filed, costing employers billions. However, not all of these claims are due to work-related injuries. In some cases, employees without adequate insurance coverage would opt to use their workers’ compensation coverage to cover treatment for various conditions that may be pre-existing. Under the Affordable Care Act, a large contingent of previously uninsured workers will have the right to health insurance coverage of some form or another, thus reducing the need for workers’ compensation claims.

The increase in insured employees will also lead to a preventative approach, from both employers and the workforce, all aiming to develop a healthier workplace and lower the number of filed insurance claims. For Businesses, taking a preventative approach by introducing initiatives such as wellness programs should be regarded as something they do FOR employees and not TO them. At the end of the day, a healthier workforce means health insurance claims are less likely, while taking an interest in the well-being of the workforce can also help harness working relationships and ultimately lead to better results.

Better Care

The Affordable Care Act legislates for an increased number of insured US citizens and in light of this increase, the number of practitioners and physicians is set to also increase, particularly in rural areas. While there have been suggestions of how the actual care will be affected by a much higher proportion of patients, the long-term ideals of the ACA include increased facilities and medical professionals, which will ultimately result in better care in some areas that may have lacked facilities in the past.

The provisions of the ACA also dictate the introduction of Electronic medical records allowing Physicians to diagnose and treat workers’ compensation claims more efficiently and accurately. This emphasis on the holistic treatment of chronic care could ultimately help claimants to return to work quicker, thus benefitting Businesses. An electronic database could also help reduce the likelihood of medical errors and subsequently increase the quality and efficiency of care.

While speculation over how the ACA will affect workers’ compensation coverage continues, it is important for Businesses to understand that there will be changes. Understanding mandate deadlines and the provisions of the act itself is one thing, but understanding the actual effects of Health Care Reform is another, which will involve time, effort and commitment from employers.

If you’re looking to review your Employee Benefits program ahead of January 1, why not ask one of our experts for their advice.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mistakes to Avoid With Employee Wellness Programs

Workplace wellness programs are an increasingly important part of the employee benefits program, designed to encourage employees to take steps to prevent the onset of worsening health conditions and eliminate unhealthy behaviours, through nutrition seminars and physical activity. While they are often touted a costly venture for employers, such investments can pay off handsomely for employers, by improving relationships, building work ethic and of course, cutting down financial costs long term.key person insurance

Whether you are thinking about Workplace Wellness for the first time, or indeed considering a revamp of your current initiative, understanding the common mistakes and misconceptions associated with Wellness programs can help you and your employees deliver the results.

No plan at all

It may seem like a no brainer, but having no wellness program is probably the biggest mistake you should avoid making. Workplace Wellness programs are something of a fresh fad and were not always considered a requirement for Businesses. While there is not currently any legislation binding companies to promote workplace wellness, it is something that Businesses consider to be an important part of their overall benefits plan, heading into the future.

Businesses that decide against the promotion of a preventative scheme will run the risk of missing out on building relationships within the workplace by making employees feel valued. At the end of the day, wellness programs are something you implement FOR the workforce, not something you do to them. Neglecting the growing demand for wellness in the workplace can leave businesses standing still when they could just as easily be moving forward.

Insufficient budget

There is no point in ignoring the fact that a successful wellness program will cost you. In order to see results, employers must be committed to their workforce and prepared to meet the financial requirements of Wellness initiatives. If you fail to provide adequate funding, your wellness initiative will automatically be doomed to failure.

Failing to sit down and assess the budgetary requirements of introducing a workplace wellness scheme is a common mistake that companies make when first approaching a workplace initiative. It is important to understand that a wellness initiative can be a major undertaking and will require adequate funding, staffing and resources to provide meaningful results. It is important for employers to persist and provide consistent funding, if required, so that the long-term future of your employees and employee benefit costs are manageable and guaranteed.

One size fits all approach

One of the most important considerations to make when assessing the requirements of your workplace wellness initiative and deciding what it should entail, is that no two workers are the same and therefore, adopting a ‘one size fits all approach’ is something worth avoiding. Some employees may be in a different condition of health than others. Some may smoke while some may not. It is important to tailor your plan to fit each individual employee and if that involves individual profiling, BMI and fitness testing, then so be it.

Many companies that introduce general wellness plans that hold the physical condition of each and every employee in the same regard will see participation levels drop. Considering participation is key to the success of the wellness program, low participation levels mean it’s time to rethink your initiative.

Wellness programs should also account for issues such as stress management as well as emotional and mental wellness in order to fully acknowledge the diverse needs of the workforce. By understanding those needs and the obstacles to watch out for, you can introduce an effective, cost-efficient – in the long run – wellness program that can help boost morale, working relationships, reputation and ultimately, productivity.

Need advice on how your Employee Benefits Program? Ask an expert for free.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FAQ on Exchange Notice Penalties

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employers to provide all new hires and current employees with a written notice about the ACA’s health insurance exchanges (Exchanges), effective Oct. 1, 2013.

On Sept. 11, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a frequently asked question (FAQ) on the penalties for failing to provide an Exchange Notice. In this FAQ, the DOL stated that there is no fine or penalty under the ACA for failing to provide the notice.

Exchange Notice Requirements

The ACA requires all employers that are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide a written notice to their new and current employees about the Exchanges.

The notice should inform employees:

  • About the Exchange;
  • That they may be able to get lower-cost private insurance in the Exchange; and
  • That they may lose the employer contribution (if any) to their health benefits if they buy insurance through the Exchange.

The DOL has issued two model notices to help employers comply. There is one model for employers that do not offer a health plan and another model for employers that offer a health plan for some or all employees:

Employers may use one of these models, as applicable, or a modified version. More compliance assistance information is available in a Technical Release issued by the DOL.

The deadline for providing the Exchange Notice is Oct. 1, 2013.

Penalties for Failing to Comply

Although employers that are subject to the FLSA should provide a written notice to their employees about the Exchange by Oct. 1, 2013, the DOL asserted in the FAQ that there is no fine or penalty under the ACA for failing to provide the notice.

This means that employers cannot be fined for failing to provide employees with notice about the ACA’s new Exchanges.

What This Means for Employers

Although this FAQ asserts that there will be no penalties for failing to provide an Exchange Notice, there are several reasons employers may still want to provide the notice.

The Exchange Notice can help employers answer employee questions about:

  • What the Exchange is;
  • Whether the employer will still provide a plan once the Exchanges are operational;
  • How Exchange plans are different from the employer’s plan; and
  • Whether the employer’s plan is intended to be affordable and provide minimum value.

If the employer’s plan is affordable and provides minimum value, employees will not be eligible for federal subsidies through the Exchange. However, most employees will have the option of waiving employer-sponsored coverage and, instead, enrolling in coverage through the Exchange.

In many cases, employer-sponsored coverage may be a better option for employees than Exchange coverage. For example, premiums for employer-sponsored coverage will often be cheaper for the employee than premiums for coverage through the Exchange. Additionally, the employee portion of the premium for employer-sponsored coverage is typically excluded from taxable income and is therefore tax-free. This is not the case in the Exchange.

More Information

Please visit the DOL website or contact us for more information on the Exchange Notice requirement.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Businesses Need to Know About Healthcare Reform

Over 3 years have passed since the Obama Administration signed off on the Affordable Care Act which was considered the first step in a long journey towards lowering the number of American citizens without Health Insurance. With the State and Federally-operated Health Insurance Exchanges opening on October 1, and the January 1 2014 deadline looming, it seems we are finally beginning to see the journey towards Nationwide Health Insurance Coverage take pace.health care benefits

However, a number of hiccups have slowed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and following the recent postponement of the employer’s mandate, many US citizens and Businesses have been left to ponder the timeframe of Health Care Reform and whether or not it will take off as anticipated. In light of this confusion and uncertainty, here are a few points you need to know so that you and/or your Business can be fully prepared come January 2014.

What the Affordable Care Act means

The Affordable Care Act is a law which requires almost all American citizens to maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage or else face a tax penalty. It also provides that large employers must offer coverage to full-time employees or else pay a penalty of up to $2,000 per employee. Smaller Business owners must also offer employees Health Insurance coverage but will be eligible for a tax credit to help cover the costs. The law also calls for Insurers to accept applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions or health issues, meaning employees and retirees no longer need an employment relationship to gain access to health coverage.

So far, 25 states have opted for federally-based exchanges while 19 have declared their preference of state-based exchanges. These exchanges will allow US citizens and Business owners to shop for Health Insurance coverage after October 1 which has been set as the opening date. Fees on employers, insurers, drug and device makers and higher earners as well as the introduction of new taxes will help fund the programme which is due to take effect on January 1, 2014.

Healthcare Trends in the US

Employer-based Health Benefits are the dominant source of Health Coverage in the US, however, this form of coverage has steadily declined since the year 2000, something that the Affordable Care Act aims to stabilise and rejuvenate. According to reports, 155.5m non-elderly US citizens with coverage in 2011 were covered by employer-based Health Insurance programmes. That figure represents a stark drop of 14.2m from 2000. The Affordable Care Act targets Employers, Big and Small, in an attempt to make Health Insurance a complete necessity for US citizens who may have opted against it in the past for financial reasons or other.

Over the past 20 years, Health Care Costs in America have increased dramatically, subsequently increasing the financial pressure on Businesses in providing Health Insurance coverage for employees. The Affordable Care Act will see the introduction of tax benefits as part of the long term objective of lowering Medicare costs.

Perhaps the most important figure of all is the 45 million US citizens who lacked Health Insurance in 2012, according to reports. This has been taken as a confirmation of the need for Health Care Reform across the country.

The role of Businesses

From discussing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act in relation to Health Care trends in America, it is clear to see that the substantiality of Health Care Reform will have much to do with the role of US Businesses, big and small. From providing Health Insurance to introducing preventative measures such as Wellness programmes, US Businesses will be at the heart of Health Care Reform.

Although the Employer’s mandate delay has caused confusion among employers, the decision is a clear indication that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is in fact working. Businesses are still encouraged to purchase employee Health coverage after October 1, however, penalties for failing to provide Health Insurance will not take effect until 2015, giving employers more time to restructure. It has also been suggested that this delay will give the Obama Administration time to look at the law itself and make changes if necessary.

The eventuality factor remains, and employers now have more time to plan ahead and consider the long-term future of their organization. Businesses now have adequate time to conduct a reassessment of their Risk Management Strategy, consider introducing Wellness Programmes and consult their Insurer on the best possible Health Insurance policy that can be incorporated into their overall process. Although you won’t be subject to a penalty, now is the time to act ahead of the October 1 exchange window.

Health Care Reform can be quite confusing for both employers and employees. If you need to study up and see how you you’re affected by the Affordable Care Act, speak to one of our experts.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Will Healthcare Reform Lead to Increased Patient-Centered Care?

With the Health Care Exchanges now less than two months away, we are well and truly on the verge of long-awaited Health Care Reform. Over 3 years since it was passed, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will begin to take effect in the coming months ahead of January 2014, which will mark the beginning of the new legislation. doctor, clipboard, stethescope

Under the ACA, every US citizen will be legally obliged to purchase Health Insurance of some form or another or else face heavy fines come January. Those who were previously unable to afford Health Insurance will be entitled to a tax credit, depending on their income. Ultimately, the objective of ‘Obamacare’ is to get the ball rolling on Nationwide Health Care, available to everyone at affordable rates. However, while the ACA will see changes in Health Insurance coverage, what does it mean for the actual services available to US citizens? For many, Health Care Reform is seen as an opportunity for Patient-Centered care.

What is Patient-Centered Care?

Nationwide coverage is the aim of Health Care Reform, but there are many other provisions worth considering as you prepare yourself for the October 1 exchanges deadline, including how Health Care itself will be affected by the huge increase in patients across the country.

Many Physicians and Health Care specialists have already started to move towards a Patient-Centered Care system which is an innovative approach to the planning, delivery and evaluation of health care based on mutually beneficial relationships between providers, patients and families. Patient-Centered Care is about respect for patient’s preferences and values and providing emotional support, physical comfort and consistent care. Communication, education and coordination of care to include family involvement are all elements of a patient-focused initiative which ultimately provides an engaging and personally-tailored Health Care programme for patients.

Patient-Centered Care in the Affordable Care Act

Patient-centeredness is very much at the heart of Health Care Reform having been integrated into a number of health reform initiatives in the past. The ACA includes a number of innovative pilot programs that will evaluate the Patient-Centered Medical Home. It calls for the creation of a ‘Physician Compare’ website allowing the public to compare quality data at the physician level, such as ‘an assessment of patient experience and patient, caregiver, and family engagement.’

Shared decision-making is another attribute of the ACA, with the objective of providing an increased level of adequate information to patients. Patients will be able to make informed health decisions, along with family and caregivers, as part of a person-focused system. Preventative Care starts at an education level and the ACA places significant focus on the introduction of schemes at school-level to educate the youth about their health.

In order for a Patient-Centered system to work, an adequate measurement scheme must be in place to assess patient satisfaction and in introducing a ‘Physician Compare’ initiative along with surveys, the ACA aims for patient-focused care that can help in future decision making.

What should you do to ensure you get the best Coverage/Treatment?

If you haven’t studied up on Health Care Reform and the legislative changes that will be introduced in January 2014, then talk to your insurance agent. Make sure you know what it means for you, your family and your health insurance plan. Understanding is the first step, once you understand what these changes mean you can compare health insurance plans and physicians so that you are prepared for 2014 and beyond.

While quantity of patients is set to increase, the role of Physicians will change with a stronger focus on patient’s personal conditions and requirements. A serious and sustained effort to build a Patient-Centered health care system is starting to gain momentum with Health Care treatment tailored to your needs along with Health Insurance Plans tailored to your needs, the main objective.

If you have a question about Health Care Reform and what Insurance plan best suits you, why not ask one of our experts for free.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Will Healthcare Reform Actually Work?

After 3 long years, the countdown to the Health Care exchanges is coming to an end. While a lot of the confusion and uncertainty brought on by the heavily-debated 2010 Affordable Care Act remains, the October 1 deadline beckons, as we approach a new age of ‘Health Care for All’ here in the US.

There is no doubt that the Affordable Care Act was seen as a huge political victory for the Obama Administration. But the question of whether or not it will prove a historic one, also lingers.  As employers and citizens seek consultation on the best possible Health Insurance plan, a number of hiccups, including the recent postponement of the employer’s mandate, not to mention the 17 states who have opted out of ‘Obamacare’, have left many US citizens wondering whether or not Health Care Reform will actually work.

What exactly are we working towards?

‘Obamacare’ legislates that all US citizens must have some form of Health Care coverage come January 2014. Those who fail to buy Health Insurance by the turn of the year will be subject to hefty fines. The scheme also calls on large employers to provide Health Care coverage to employees, provided they have over 50 working staff. Making it a legal obligation for people to have Health Insurance is seen as the most effective way to achieve nationwide coverage come 2018, and while some states have opted out of a federal health insurance exchange, they have devised their own initiatives to roll out state-wide Health Care by January 2014.

Convincing the people

Up until now, the Obama Administration’s Health Care Reform initiative has received heavy criticism from various bodies and media figures from different backgrounds. But the White House ensures, job-growth, new and improved health care facilities as well as practitioners, and increased localisation of Health Care services are at the heart of the initiative which thus far, hasn’t resulted in job losses. Convincing doubters is arguably the biggest challenge President Obama has had to face during his tenure, which ultimately will be defined by the success of Health Care Reform.

Nurturing before and after 2014

Legislation will count for very little come the end of 2014 unless the initiative is nurtured into existence, enforced and invested in. Investment from the Government is as important as investment from the people, who are the main beneficiaries of Health Care Reform. While January 2014 is seen as a new dawn, people must go out, consult their insurance brokers and find the best possible health insurance package for them and their loved ones. The future of US Health Care depends on people making that step, regardless of their current state of health or financial situation. The ‘Health Care for All’ initiative must be supported by all so it can benefit all.

The role of employers

Large employers are responsible for providing Health Care coverage for employees and in many ways, they are the backbone of the Obamacare initiative. Critics claim some employers may let go of staff to lower their books and avoid having to provide health insurance, but this puts the sustainability of the company in doubt and also puts a business in an impossible position where they can be held subject to fines and penalties. Health Care reform depends on employers, both large and small, learning about the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and working to accommodate employees in a way that both ensures their health and the long term health of the company itself.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Healthcare Reform and the Youth of America

The October 1 deadline for US Health Care Reform is fast approaching as president Obama continues to work on multiple strategies aiming to enroll 7 million US citizens to the news scheme by January 1 2014. The new scheme legislates that US citizens must have health insurance by 2014 or else face heavy fines.

AxQpW0sB9j8q402LQxZGg4wJhIKKq72MtpXkaMNFnZ4

At present, 17 States will offer insurance through their own exchanges, while the rest will offer health insurance through the federally managed programme dubbed ‘Obamacare’. Deputy White House advisor David Simas spoke to PBS recently about the challenges that remain in the Obama Administration’s implementation of the new Healthcare regime. “In order for the marketplace to be successful, a smaller subset needs to be at the centre of our focus for outreach, and that’s about 2-2.5 million, young and healthy, 18-35 year olds,” Simas said, confirming public opinion that the biggest challenge facing the Obama Administration is convincing young people who are healthy and active, to buy health insurance.

As the debate of whether or not Obamacare is good or bad for young Americans rages on, we look at the considerations of young people in the run up to the Oct 1 Healthcare exchange opening.

Cost

The number one reason that almost 20 million young adults in the US lack basic Healthcare coverage is the cost of Healthcare. Many between the ages of 18-35 are still in education be it school, part-time schooling or community college or else they are recent graduates, looking to secure full-time employment. For many of these people, particularly in the current climate, it is difficult to find that full-time job with benefits. With low disposable income, it is very difficult for young people to commit to health insurance, particularly when they have a clean bill of health and no urgent need for medical treatment.

While Obamacare provides that large companies must offer healthcare coverage for their employees, many young people who are recent graduates or are still in education, find themselves out of this loop.

Risk

While many young people may refrain from buying health insurance due to their state of health, there is no guarantee that someone between the ages of 18-35 will have a clean bill of health throughout those years. Those who are uninsured run the risk of paying huge fees if they end up having to seek medical care, something that happens quite regularly across the States. According to Aaron Smith, Executive Director of Young People advocacy agency ‘Young Invincibles,’ more young people than elderly are admitted to A&E during an average year and are therefore fully aware of the risk they run without health insurance.

While health insurance costs are generally avoided by young people who may not have the disposable income to avail of coverage, Obamacare will offer those young Americans who earn less than $44,000 dollars per year a tax credit that will help them to fund healthcare coverage. In addition, many young people may have been refused medicaid in the past unless they had children. 2014 will see Medacaid offered to people with incomes lower than $15,000, encompassing roughly 8 million US citizens. This will ensure that young Americans who fall into that low earners bracket can still avail of the care available to wealthier citizens.

Future

While study, travel and securing full-time work are the things that most occupy the minds of 18-35 year olds, it is important for young Americans to think ahead with regards the Healthcare reform act. 2014 marks the beginning of this new era in US Healthcare, and young people must make sure to consider their future, economically, domestically and in terms of family planning in run up to the October 1 deadline.

Healthcare reform will give young Americans that safety blanket of health insurance coverage as they exit their leaner years. Financially, while many young people are convinced contributing funds towards healthcare is just a way of benefitting the older generation, they are contributing to US Healthcare as a whole, something they will certainly avail of in years to come, especially when they begin families of their own.

So whether they’re covered by Obamacare or state provided exchanges,Healthcare Reform is something everyone needs to prepare for, no matter what age they are or State they come from. Personal health is something everyone needs to manage and invest in and it is worth investigating the possibilities instead of accepting a hefty fine come 2014.

If you have a question about Healthcare Reform, ask it for free and get answers from an expert.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,