Springfield Business Journal Articles


Obamacare "Highlights"

Now that Congress has passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") so they can know what is in it and the Supreme Court has decided it is mostly constitutional, what effect will it have on you?

If you are an employer, the first thing to know is that Obamacare does not apply to your business if you have fewer than 50 employees.

If you have up to 25 employees, pay average annual wages below $50,000, and provide health insurance (that meets the law's requirements), you may qualify for a tax credit of up to 35% to offset the cost of your insurance.  The amount of the credit increases to 50% in 2012.

If you provide health insurance to retirees aged 55-64, you can get assistance in paying for the insurance through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.

Under the law, starting in 2014, businesses with fewer than 100 employees can purchase insurance through an Insurance Exchange.  Each state is supposed to create an such an exchange As part of ObamaCare, states have the option to establish a health insurance exchange to be operational by January 1, 2014.  If the state does not "demonstrate progress toward implementing an Exchange" by January 1, 2013, the federal government is supposed to set up an exchange.  However, no federal funds have been allocated for the creation of an exchange at this time.  Therefore, if states choose not to create an exchange, they can effectively opt out of Obamacare.  It is very likely, however, that Illinois will create an exchange.

If your business is subject to Obamacare and you do not provide qualified insurance to your employees, you will be fined $2,000 per employee for all but the first 20 employees.

Obamacare will also have far reaching effects on individuals.  You have probably heard of some of these changes.

    ‚óè    You must have health insurance by 2014, the so called "individual mandate" that was upheld by the Supreme Court.

    ‚óè    Your children up to age 26 can remain on your health insurance plan.

    ‚óè    Insurance companies can no longer drop you under certain circumstances.

    ‚óè    Insurance companies cannot put a cap on your lifetime benefits.

    ‚óè    Your children can't be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    ‚óè    Starting in 2014, you cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    ‚óè    You may have coverage for certain "wellness" exams that you did not have before.

If you do not have health insurance next year, you will be required pay a penalty of as much as 2.5% of your income.

Many of the effects of Obamacare won't be known for some time.  This is true because rules and regulations are still be written.  (One such rule is the controversial mandate to provide coverage for contraception and abortion which is currently being challenged in federal court.)  In addition, it will take time for the costs of the program to be fully known.  The estimated cost of the program has increased from $900 billion to $2.6 trillion over ten years.  The state and federal governments will have to find a way to pay these costs,

Finally, the effect on doctors is also unknown.  A recent survey of doctors by the Doctor Patient Medical Association (www.doctorsandpatients.org) found that:

    90% say the medical system is on the wrong track;
    83% say they are thinking about quitting;
    85% say the patient-physician relationship is in a tailspin;
    65% say government involvement is most to blame for current problems;
    72% say individual insurance mandate will not result in improved access care;
    49% say they will stop accepting medicaid patients; and
    74% say they will stop accepting medicare patients, or leave medicare completely.

Will health insurance be easier to obtain?  Will it be affordable?  Will your taxes go up?  Will your doctor still see you?  These are some of the questions yet to be answered under our new health care system.
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