With new HIPAA regulations going into effect on September 23rd, and the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” beginning its official rollout on October 1st, the health-care 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 US citizens to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty, doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2014, all 50 states will have health insurance exchanges, or “marketplaces,” up and running on October 1st.
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 health-care providers in bureaucratic red tape.
There’s one cut-and-dry rule, however, upon which everyone agrees: per the US 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 health-care 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 health-care reform law. Thankfully, the US Small Business Administration cleared the air on September 12th, 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 health-care 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 health-care landscape alone? Call or email CMIT Solutions today!