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Find out how ‘Obamacare’ may affect you at Tuesday morning seminar
September 16, 2013 - Rob Weaver
Seneca Regional chamber of Commerce plans to host a seminar concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- commonly referred to as “Obamacare” -- Tuesday morning. Much of the information included in the chamber's announcement for the session already has been reported on the pages of The Advertiser-Tribune, but due to the importance and complexity of the topic, it is worth repeating.
Thus, here is the announcement in its entirety. The time and place for the seminar are listed in the concluding paragraph.
Health care reform – What you don’t know can cost you … big …
March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Since that time, many provisions have been implemented; however, the biggest changes in the Ohio market are due to hit Jan. 1, 2014. Do you know how you will be affected and what it will cost you? Estimates in Ohio indicate an average premium increase will be 40 percent or more for many! There is lots of confusion regarding this law and its impact. What was delayed? How long was it delayed? What should I be doing now? What should I prepare for in the future? Depending on how you obtain your health insurance, you will have various options in the new market starting Jan. 1, 2014. Making the wrong decision now can cost you thousands of dollars more than if you know the options and make the right decisions. Individuals have several options: If you have a current health policy that you pay for on your own, you can consider renewing your policy effective Dec. 1 before the change in rating affects the entire Ohio market. For those whose average rates are below the new rates coming in 2014, this is a smart strategy to lock in the lower rates. If you have a current health policy that costs you MORE than the new rates coming in 2014, you will want to review your options with your agent/broker or carrier to see which plan will meet your needs best. YOU MAY QUALIFY FOR MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT TO HELP PAY FOR YOUR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH PLAN! Depending on your income level, there is premium assistance for households up to 400 percent of the federal poverty Level. You can speak with your agent/broker or check at www.healthcare.gov after Oct. 1 to see whether you could qualify for these funds. If you decide you would prefer not to have health insurance, that option is available; however, the penalty will apply when you file your 2014 tax return and you will be assessed either $95 or 1 percent of your household income, whichever is greater. Small employers (up to 49 full time equivalent employees) also have options: If you have a current group health plan, you can consider renewing your health plan effective Dec. 1 before the change in Ohio’s insurance rates affects your group health plan. For those whose rates are below the new rates effective Jan. 1, 2014, this could be a good option. Keep in mind that unless you are considered “grandfathered” (ask your carrier if this applies), the plans available to you starting Jan. 1, 2014, will not look the same as today since they have to include all of the “essential health benefits” and meet the act's required benefit levels. If you have a current group health plan and your rates may be higher than the new plans available effective Jan. 1, 2014, you could pay substantially more by waiting and not taking advantage of the lower rates as soon as they are available. Your agent/broker will be able to assist with plan comparisons to help determine the best new employee benefit plan for your employees. Keep in mind, there is no penalty to drop coverage if you have up to 49 full-time equivalent employees (if you are not familiar with this provision, please contact your trusted adviser for assistance). However, you need to consider the impact to your employees if you do this; currently, you are offering a benefit that is tax deductible to you as the employer and tax free to the employee with all benefits paid on a tax free basis. If your employees do not have employer-based coverage, their cost is always after-tax. For employers that have 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, you need to begin your tracking for eligibility. While the financial penalties have been postponed until Jan. 1, 2015, you will need to begin tracking employees’ hours and eligibility. ALL employers MUST notify their employees of the availability of the new Health Marketplace no later than Oct. 1 and provide notice whether their plan is both “affordable” and “meets the minimum actuarial value”. Confused? This is the time to get the facts and make informed decisions as not taking action can cost employers and individuals significantly more than today. You have an opportunity to learn about the various provisions, how they impact employers, employees, and individuals who purchase their own health insurance. Once you know the facts, you will be able to make an informed decision that can save you thousands of dollars over the next 12 months. Sound interesting? The Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce is offering a health care reform session on at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at the chamber office, 19 W. Market St., Tiffin. You will hear from the experts who have been advising businesses and individuals for many years and they will provide a detailed look at the changes coming. Offered through our partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
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