The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will begin to take hold during 2013-14. Consider your options… and do not be surprised.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will begin to take hold during 2013-14. Consider your options... and do not be surprised.

With its final electoral challenge removed in November, most provisions and edicts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will begin to take effect during 2013 and 2014. The proposed changes will be substantial to both the users and buyers (and funders) of healthcare in US markets.

Over the last two years, Wilkening & Company has written several articles on the impact of ACA on employers and employees. In these articles we have endeavored to forecast coming trends and market changes, comment on the implications of these changes to the healthcare landscape and advise readers regarding prudent actions to take. To review all or some of these, please refer to the links provided at the end of these comments.

My purpose here is to make two suggestions to employers as they approach these imminent healthcare-market changes in 2013.

First, if you already provide employee health insurance coverage and support, reevaluate your current strategy for delivering employee health insurance and see if it still works under to-be-imposed ACA mandates. Get help if you need it, but be sure someone in your organization is responsible for helping set a course (and seizing the unseen opportunities) that will get you through the next two years—at minimum cost and maximum employee satisfaction. Ignoring the issue will not work.

Second, if you are a small employer (under 50 full-time employees in the current ACA version) and do not supply health insurance, the new law will generally not apply to you. But, do not think you can ignore its impact or its rules. Why?

  • The healthcare marketplace will change forever under ACA and benefits will begin to look and act more like compensation. In other words, perhaps you want to take a second look at employee health coverage and its cost—and visibly shift your “pay costs” around a bit. Also, expect federal and state government to get rather picky regarding the definition of part-time employees (we understand the IRS has or plans a 10-page form for reporting employment information to determine the number of full-time employees on your staff).
  • When your employees have seen “Paris” (i.e.: the new features and benefits of ACA coverage and availability) they may become quite vocal about wanting some of that for themselves. Do not be surprised if your attractiveness as an employer suffers without health coverage or a pay subsidy. How will you respond?

In the end, remember that offering and delivering healthcare insurance to your employees is more than just a cost line on your profit and loss statement. It is part of your employment deal with your employees. So ACA will do more than just cost you more (or less) money than before. It will also get right into the middle of that deal you have with your employees—for better or worse.

On a similar note, many expect 2013-14 to be healthcare market chaos as the Federals are not ready to implement the 2,000+ pages of rules they have written. We recommend that all employers watch the ACA implementation & markets carefully and do your best to screen or protect your employees from state or Federal shortfalls and mistakes.

Any good company goes on the offensive when challenged. Do the same with ACA.

Wilkening & Company E-Notes previous articles on the Affordable Care Act—

July 2012   |   April 2012   |   June 2011   |   August 2010   |   June 2010

Wilkening & Company has assembled a respected team of tax, legal and risk-management experts to help clients navigate the uncertain waters known as ACA and to help them reach a cost effective and complaint outcome. We are trying to become a “go-to” resource in these trying and uncertain times. If you are concerned about what actions to take next, feel free to call or write Wilkening & Company at (847) 823-5090, bob@wilkeningco.com.

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