Feb 10, 2013

Businesses get update on Affordable Health Care Act

BY RYAN BERRY 

MANAGING EDITOR 
GREENVILLE – The Darke County Chamber of Commerce held its sixth annual Ground Hog Day Breakfast on Feb. 1. The meeting included an update on the real estate market in Darke County and a presentation on Health Care Reform and Your Business.

Aleene Cromwell, past president of the Darke County Association of REALTORS®, noted the industry has changed. While local REALTORS® are beginning to see indicators for recovery, Cromwell believes there won’t be a true recovery until issues with foreclosures and short sales are cleared up. She points to mid 2014 before this happens.

She also noted there has been improvement with financing issues. No longer are lending agencies accepting unverified income. Although 100% was good to get, she believes a lot of families had a hard time when the payment came due and it became their first time they had to make sacrifices.

Barb Gerken, regional sales manager of NW Ohio, Cornerstone Broker Insurance, shared information on the Affordable Health Care Act. Some of the requirements have already been implemented and many more will be implemented in 2013 and beyond. Some of the changes already in place include requiring a summary of benefits and coverage be provided by employer and carriers, carrier rebates, expanded coverage for Women’s Preventive Care and Comparative Effectiveness Research Fee.

Some of the highlights for 2013 include FSA contribution limits have been limited to $2,500, but employers on a plan year FSA will not be required to revise limits until the plan renews in 2013; Medicare Payroll Tax Increase of 0.9% for employees with wages in excess of $200,000; employers are required to notify employees regarding availability of health insurance exchanges and premium subsidies; Medicare Part D Subsidy tax deduction for employers who receive the drug subsidy has been eliminated; itemized deduction for medical expenses will increase from 7.5% to 10% of adjusted gross income with the increased amount waived for persons 65 and older for tax years 2013-16; and employer auto enrollment that requires employers with more than 200 full time employees to automatically enroll new employees although final guidance in this area has not been released.

A requirement to have medical exchanges up and running by this fall may not be ready by the deadline. Only a few states are nearing completion of their exchanges and others are opting for the federal government’s exchange. Gerken pointed out that it is doubtful that the federal exchange will be in place and information given to the states before the deadline.

One of the areas that is concerning to Gerkens is the Small Group Rating changes scheduled to be instituted in 2014. Policy rates will be based on a community rating that would take into account age, tobacco use, geography and family tier. The rate for all participants would be based on this rating, which means rates for older persons could possibly decrease and rates for younger persons could possibly increase, which would lead to many of the younger persons in the group dropping their insurance. However, the Individual Mandate will also be required in 2014 and persons without insurance must pay a penalty, but that penalty will probably be less than the insurance premium for many of the younger persons in the group. Gerkens believes this loss would create a very unhealthy insurance pool.

Gerkens and the Chamber will be watching closely how the Affordable Health Care Act unfolds and may offer an update later this year.
Barb Gerken gives update on Affordable Health Care Act at the Darke County Chamber’s Ground Hog Day Breakfast.

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