Business Owners in the Tri-Cities try to make sense of the Health Care ReformPosted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, Wash.,-- Business owners getting a tutorial on what the health care reform means for them in the next few years. Guest speaker, Matt Henderson, CEO of Pacific Crest Planning was asked to explain some things at the Tri-Cities Business and Visitor Center in Kennewick.
Henderson says, "We understand75-80% of what's in the bill. The reality is that it's a 25-hundred page bill. But to really spell out how the bill has to be implemented, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates it will take about another 25 to 30 thousand pages of writing. So its not an easy task."
Business owner, Philip Lynch expressed his fears before the presentation, "they 're not addressing any of the issues. Cost is still going to be a concern. There's nothing in the bill that's going to help any of the cost."
Douglass Dickey, a business owner who works with his wife and two other employees says, " as small as we are, we have to watch expenses quite a bit, and if the numbers jump up, we may have to let go one or two employees."
Henderson says, his presentation can only do so much, "I'm hoping they walk away from today with a little bit of understanding about what they need to do as business owners. A little bit less fear and trepidation about what looms in the future. We fear what we don't understand, and the closer we are to understanding what really is going , we're empowered to take action to be prepared."
Here are some points from Matt Henderson's presentation:
HOW ARE EMPLOYERS AFFECTED?
-Health Insurance Costs increase starting in 2010, and Skyrocketing in 2014
-More Compliance, Rules and administration.
-Must provide mandated health insurance to employees working over 30 hours per week.
-$2,000 Fines for not offering, plus Part Time Employees calculated towards fine.
-Employers with 50 or more workers not offering coverage will be required to pay $2,000 for each full-time employee for its entire full-time work force. The fee begins if at least one employee enrolls in a plan through a health-insurance exchange and receives a federal subsidy.
TIMELINE OF WHAT TO EXPECT:
-Subsidies begin for small employers to provide health insurance coverage to employees.
-Insurance Companies will be prohibited from barring coverage to children who have preexisting conditions (adults have to wait until 2014)
-National High Risk Pool to be created within 90 days of enactment (Washington already has one).
-Dependent Age Coverage extended to the age of 26
-Health Plans develop and file new rates (states approve or disapprove of new rate filings).
-HHS secretary approves or disapproves of rate increase requests from insurance carriers.
-Prohibits Lifetime Benefit Limits
----Allows for Restricted Annual Limits for essential benefits as determined by HHS
-Preventative Services must be provided at no charge to the employee or insured
-ER benefit must always be provided at "in-network" coinsurance levels. No Prior Authorization allowed for emergencies.
-New Health Plan Disclosure and Transparency Requirements to be utilized (as yet to be defined)
-Grandfather plans allowed but very limited, a lot of the new mandates apply such as prohibition on lifetime limits, dependent coverage to age --26, no pre-ex for children and Allows for Restricted Annual Limits for essential benefits as determined by HHS (Virtually any change to the plan will trigger the loss of "Grandfathered" Status-deductible, copay, coinsurance, co-premium, etc)
-Starting in 2010 until 2014, businesses with 10 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees earning less than $25,000 a year on average will be eligible for a tax credit of 35% of health insurance costs. (Companies with between 11 and 25 workers and an average wage of up to $50,000 are eligible for partial credits.)
-The tax credit will remain in place, increasing to 50% of costs, for the first two years a company buys insurance through its state exchange (why only through the Exchange?)
-The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the tax credit will affect about 12% of individuals covered via the small-group insurance market, lowering their cost of insurance by between 8% and 11%.