With new HIPAA regulations going into effect on Sep. 23, and the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” beginning its official rollout on Oct. 1, the healthcare landscape has never looked more confusing. Two recent polls from the Pew Research Center/USA Today and the Wall Street Journal/NBC News bear that fact out.
What’s all the confusion about? Obamacare’s employer mandate, which states that all businesses with at least 50 or more full-time employees must offer acceptable insurance coverage or face a $2,000 penalty, has been pushed back until 2015—partially because of worries about the strain it might impose on government IT systems. And although the individual mandate, which requires eligible U.S. citizens to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty, doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014, all 50 states will have health insurance exchanges, or “marketplaces,” up and running on Oct. 1.
Some states will operate these exchanges alone; some will leave them up to the federal government; still others have partnered with Washington, DC, to jointly run them. Some experts say the law’s implementation will add jobs to the economy; some say it will subtract them. Some say the law will reduce health insurance costs and streamline the medical field; some say it will raise costs and hopelessly mire healthcare providers in bureaucratic red tape.
There’s one cut-and-dry rule, however, upon which everyone agrees: per the U.S. Department of Labor, any company with one or more employees and at least $500,000 in annual revenue must notify their employees of the new healthcare exchanges.
But even that cut-and-dry Affordable Care Act aspect contains shades of gray. Two weeks ago, several news outlets reported that non-compliance with this rule could result in $100-a-day penalties, stoking business community unease about the ramifications of the controversial and often confounding healthcare reform law. Thankfully, the U.S. Small Business Administration cleared the air on Sep. 12, reporting that the rule would stand—just minus any fines for non-compliance.
As trusted advisors to the small and medium-sized business community, CMIT Solutions still urges all small businesses that meet the one employee/$500,000-in-revenue criteria to notify their employees about the new healthcare exchanges. These written notices are required to describe the exchanges and the services they provide, along with providing details about purchasing private coverage or remaining on an employer-provided plan. The employer notification mandate applies not only to existing employees but also to new hires, who must be notified in the same manner within 14 days of their start date.
The Department of Labor has two model notices available for employers: one for employers who offer a health plan to some or all employees, and one for employers who do not (Spanish-language versions are also available here).
Although both HIPAA and Obamacare present major challenges for business owners, CMIT Solutions is here to help. Our HIPAA Compliant Managed Services can be specifically tailored and right-sized for any industry, and our shared experience as fellow business owners means we’re working diligently to understand (and provide trusted advice about) the Affordable Care Act right along with you.
Don’t want to navigate the complicated new healthcare landscape alone? Call or email CMIT Solutions today!