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The Affordable Health Care Act

Posted December 19, 2012 in Advice Column, Winterset

Since the election last month, the most commonly-discussed insurance topic has been healthcare reform as a result of the Affordable Care Act signed into law March 23, 2010.

While most people didn’t pay full attention to the impact of the law previously, it is receiving much attention now that it has survived a challenge in the Supreme Court and a Presidential election.

At the time the law was passed, the implementation of the major changes seemed to be in the distant future. As always happens, time has flown by, and now nearly three years later we are within 13 months of the implementation of the entire law.

Many of the provisions have already been implemented such as:
• 2010 — Small business tax credits, Medicaid drug rebate and a tax on tanning services.
• 2011 — Minimum medical loss ratio and funding for health insurance exchanges.
• 2012 — Uniform coverage summaries for consumers.
Remaining changes coming soon:
• Jan. 1, 2013 — FSA Medical Limit. For plan years beginning on Jan. 1, 2013, employee pre-tax contribution to Medical FSAs capped at $2,500.
• March 1, 2013 — Employers required to provide employees with written notice of the existence of health insurance exchanges and potential subsidies. Exchange Enrollment Period: Oct. 15 – Dec. 7, 2013.
• Jan. 1, 2014 — Employers with more than 50 full-time employees must provide minimum essential coverage or be subject to penalties.
• New hire waiting periods can be no longer than 90 days.
• Out-of-pocket limits cannot exceed the out-of-pocket limits available with HSA-compatible High Deductible Health Plans, expected to be $6,645 for individuals and $13,290 for a family.
• Individuals are required to obtain minimum essential coverage or pay a tax.
• No pre-existing condition exclusions.
• Annual dollar amount limit on coverage eliminated for essential benefits.
• The tax credit that small employers may be eligible to receive if they meet federal requirements increases to a maximum of 50 percent of the employer’s contribution to provide health insurance for employees.
• Employee-sponsored plan must cover at least 60 percent of total costs.

The law was more than 2,700 pages. It will take seven to 10 years to develop the rules, and an additional 100,000 pages of guidance.  As you can imagine, the information provided here is just a brief summary of the law and its requirements. Consult your trusted insurance professional to see how the law will specifically impact you and/or your business.

Information provided by Eric Johnson, Johnson Insurance, 1217 N. Sixth Ave., Suite 4, Winterset, 515-462-4553.

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