Healthcare has been at the forefront in America for several decades. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Just a little over two years later, on June 28, 2012, with a 5-4 vote the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the law as constitutional based on the individual mandate being a tax.
Another facet of the law that was equally important deals with the states’ expansion of their Medicaid programs and the possible repercussions they could face if they did not participate. The Supreme Court ruled this provision unconstitutional based on the 8th Amendment. What does that mean to the business world?
We need to keep an eye on the IRS to see how they will implement the new taxes. The Department of Health and Human Services will be coming out with guidelines on minimum health care coverage. The Department of Labor will organize random visits to see if companies are in compliance. States across the country will announce which will participate in the exchange or opt out.
This is an election year; the political arena is preparing to mount campaigns for November, but this should not stop your company from taking a proactive approach to employee benefits. At this time, the alignment between HR departments/controllers/ CFOs must collaborate with a qualified benefits consultant. We know the following things:
• Employers must provide a summary plan description.
• The maximum contribution to an FSA account is fixed at $2,500.
• Carriers are willing to work with states to set up the health care exchanges.
• Wellness programs are getting traction to help control the cost of health care at the employer level.
The Supreme Court has ruled. The stage has been set for the business world to focus on the political arena. Companies, benefit professionals, and carriers have their eyes on federal and state government regulations to better prepare for 2013 and stay compliant. Plans are being drawn to cover all possible scenarios. Employers and employees are aware that health benefits can help solidify employee loyalty. The cost of health care is an integral part of a company’s bottom line.
To all the companies out there, do not go at it alone. The turbulent waters are better navigated with a benefit professional.
Mariangelica Alvarado, Benefits Consultant, Brown & Brown, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309 (954) 331-1320; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.