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The New Healthcare Law – Part 4 on the Affordable Care Act

PPACA-Magnifying Glass

The New Healthcare Law – Part 4 on the Affordable Care Act

Even before the Affordable Care Act (aka PPACA or ObamaCare if you prefer) is actually implemented, word-of-mouth stories continue to mount concerning people who have lost hours to keep them at fewer than 30 per week or 130 per month to avoid them being considered ‘full time’.  Similar stories continue to mount about people who have been advised that they will lose their health care plans when the new year arrives because the employer is simply dropping its plan knowing that the ‘exchanges’ will be available to their employees.

If you are an employer, you know that the cost of health care plans continues to rise even before the creation of ObamaCare.  The rate of increase simply due to inflation was high enough to give employers heartburn each year as they made decisions about what they could afford and asked themselves questions about how their employees would react.

The new world of health plans is influenced by inflation just as in the past.  But those same plans are also influenced by changes that are being made law come January 1st.  Those changes include the elimination of any clauses limiting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.  Those changes include the collapsing of premium rate bands so that rates for a 64 year-old can be no more than three times the rate for a 26 year-old.  These are the two changes that probably make the most difference in costs.

Those employers that have a calendar year health plan arrangement have received or are soon to receive the renewal premium rates for 2014.  The heartburn has increased for the great majority of those employers.  We have seen actual rates for one employer that were increased by 21% year over year for the current plan.  That is significantly higher than the health care cost inflation rate, and that suggests that the Affordable Care Act played a significant part in the increase.

We suspect that a change in what has been the norm for the employer-employee relationship may be forthcoming over the next several years.  Employers will, if the cost impact is as large as some have predicted, be looking at any and all possibilities to enable them to remain competitive in the marketplace.  Employees will very probably see more changes over the next few years, as well.  Not all of these changes are going to be a pleasant experience for either employers or employees.

We at WFA Staffing are mindful of this phenomenon since we are also experiencing it just as are all other employers.  Our crystal ball is likely a bit cloudy today as is that of most employers, but we are committed to make our way through the changes just as we have for many years.  We are committed to helping our employer clients and our employees, temporary and full time, as they each work their way through the changes.  We prefer to look at the new opportunities as opposed to lamenting about change, and we suspect that you are too!  Give us a call and we’ll see if we can help you find opportunities, as well.

Al Campbell Pic

 

 

The New Health Care Law – Part 3 on the Affordable Care Act

healthcare-bubble

We are now several days into the first open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The stories we hear are those of frustration, delay, inability to log on to the ‘marketplace’ and so on.  But, we have to remember that this enrollment period will last until March 31, 2014.  If you want coverage to be effective on January 1, 2014, you must’ve completed enrollment by December 14, 2013.

Wisconsin’s Health Insurance Risk Sharing Pool (HIRSP) has created an enrollment checklist for its current members since they’ll be migrating to the new marketplace on January 1st.  That checklist is found at http://www.hirsp.org/pdfs/2013gettingreadytoshopmarketplace.pdf.  This is a very well-constructed worksheet and will be of value to anyone planning to access the marketplace to seek health care coverage.

Remember that Wisconsin is using a federally facilitated exchange (FFE) so the logon for that marketplace will be http://www.healthcare.gov .  Once on that site, you’ll be guided through the process.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has also loaded the Silver plan 2 (the second lowest priced Silver plan in the state) for each state on its website that provides estimates of premium cost and tax credits that may be available.  You can logon to http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/   and find the link to Wisconsin and the form to be completed to obtain the estimated net cost of that particular plan.  Remember that the Silver plans in the marketplace is one that pays 70% of actuarial value for the benefits you obtain leaving you with responsibility for the remaining 30% of expenses.  This will at least give you an idea of what, if any, tax credit you may expect to see to help offset part of the premium.

A final thought that is very important is this, check the provider directory for the insurance plan you are considering to be certain that your physician is in the network for that plan, and to be sure that he or she accepts the reimbursements negotiated for this plan.  If you have any doubt, note the name of the plan you are considering and telephone your provider to verify that he or she is participating in that plan.

It is most important that you be prepared to be very patient as you sit down to access the state marketplace.  Remember the reports of delays, lost connections, overloaded websites, etc.  You may be among the lucky ones that make it through the system the first time you sit down at your computer…or you may have to try multiple times to access the site.  Think of the tens of millions of people who will be using this site, and that may help to lower your heart rate.  🙂

Al Campbell Pic

 

 

The New Healthcare Law – Part 1 on the Affordable Care Act

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As more information comes to light about the Afforadable Care Act we will continue to keep you up to date as best as we can. WFA is constantly reaching out to industry experts, and attending informational meetings and conferences to further our knowledge about the PPACA & to better help our clients and the community.

Al Campbell Pic A big Thank you to Al Campbell for his contribution to this WFA Blog Series.

 

Many people are unaware of a change in the definition of ‘full-time’ based on recent information extracted from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or PPACA. The PPACA defines full-time as 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month. That contrasts significantly with our past definition of 40 hours per week. Employers who have become aware have, in some cases, begun to reduce the hours worked by their employees to something less than 30 hours per week.

This has had the unintended consequence of creating under-employment that has financially impacted employees who had been accustomed to 40 hours per week. It has created more and more under-employed people in the nation’s workforce that adds to the problem of true unemployment, and the hidden problem of those who have simply dropped from the workforce.
We have intentionally italicized the term unintended consequences because there are more of those being identified in the PPACA. Given the complexity of the PPACA, we expect there will be mid-course corrections required as well.

At WFA Staffing Group, we are mindful of these and other unintended consequences of decisions taken by our clients, as well as being concerned about the impact these changes have on our staff of employees who are located at various places of employment throughout the area, the state, and the nation.

In many cases, employers find that it is economically beneficial to have WFA Staffing Group employees permanently available or available over a long term and thereby transfer the burdens of the PPACA to us, rather than to shoulder those burdens along with trying to operate a competitive enterprise.

We would love to help your company as we have and are helping hundreds of employers today.

With the continuing implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), there are implications that need be carefully considered other than just the implementation of those requirements. Among those implications is the old nemesis of the ‘independent contractor’ vs. actual employee and the eagle eye which the Internal Revenue Service can have on such relationships. This has always been a murky area fraught with potential problems; does the manner in which the ‘independent contractor’ works actually follow the definition or is there question enough to bring further scrutiny?

The new health care plan laws specifying hours for full and part-time employees will have governmental agencies paying much closer attention to all employers especially as employees begin to access health plan marketplaces if your coverage is unaffordable for them by definition of the new law.

If you have any doubt about your situation, contact us and we can assist you with whatever needs you may have for skilled people who will remain on our payroll thus avoiding any implications about ‘independent contractor’ rules.

This is just one more example of the value of a relationship with WFA Staffing.