Health care reform will celebrate its first birthday on March 23rd. Undoubtedly, there will be a large gathering of Democrats praising ACA, and touting the Act’s accomplishments. Many Medicare Part D recipients became entitled to a $250 rebate to cover some of the cost of their prescription drugs. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (EERP), a temporary reinsurance plan and part of the Act took effect June 1, 2010. It was created to provide financial assistance to health plan sponsors that offer health insurance to early retirees until 2014 when health insurance exchanges are expected to be up and running. And parents can now, in most cases, continue to insure their children’s health through age 26.
While these successes and others are certainly milestones for the Affordable Care Act’s first year, the more difficult work has yet to be done and it is unclear how it will be accomplished. Health Insurance Exchanges, a key component to reform are slated for 2014. Some Federal funds have been distributed to those states that have submitted plans that comply with Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines. Since health insurance is state regulated, many states believe that they can provide a better and less expensive option that a health insurance exchange could offer. Many employers and plan sponsors are seeking waivers to avoid penalties so that they can continue to offer “mini med” plans to employees. In fact, out of 1150 waivers, President Obama has granted more than 1000. The resolution of these and other issues surrounding health care reform remains to be seen.
Although there is a set schedule for the effective dates of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, given the complexities of the various components, this is likely to change. Sadly, however, it’s complicated for most people to follow this timeline and more importantly to understand what is changing and when in addition to how any of these provisions may apply to their specific circumstances. Surveys conducted in late 2010 indicate that individuals are more concerned about their health care now than they were prior to the Affordable Care Act.
As an employer, it is critical to educate your employees so that they remain current with health care reform. As a financial adviser, health care reform can have an impact on your client’s cash flow. For additional information, contact Ellen at EAB HealthWorks.