The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has generated many questions from our industry members. I wanted to share some examples of these great questions and use them to explain why advanced prepping for 2014 and beyond is necessary.
Employers who intend to keep offering health coverage for their employees have asked (or thought about) these issues:
• Why offer health coverage if I don’t have to and will those reasons change? (i.e. recruitment, retention, productivity, etc.)
• Will my competition discontinue their coverage?
• Should I do something different than for a competitive advantage?
• If I drop my plan will the employees request additional compensation?
• Will the tax break offset the additional expense we’ve heard is coming?
• Will the exchanges even be ready by 2014?
• Will my employees be better off in the exchange and with the premium tax credit?
• How important is the health benefit to the compensation package?
Members who choose to continue offering coverage going forward have asked:
• Does it make sense to enroll in a small business health option program (SHOP) exchange?
• If I enroll in the SHOP exchange, can I amend my Section 125 plan to allow for pre-tax payment of the SHOP premiums?
• If I keep my existing plan can I modify the plan design?
• How will I budget for the additional expenses we expect for 2014?
• Will it require additional staff for reporting and processing?
• What about staffing for inquiries about the plan design or exchange?
Members who decide not to continue offering coverage have asked:
• What are others doing about the requests for additional compensation? Will everyone simply gross up the base salary? How, and when, will we know for sure what tax considerations the exchange plan will provide us?
• When can we do a plan design change to prepare for 2014?
• What employment numbers will they use? This year or next?
• Is the SHOP exchange open to all employees, regardless of hours?
• How, and when, should I communicate to our employees that we intend to discontinue our existing program?
• Will this decision overwhelm our existing HR staff?
As you can see, more questions than answers have been generated from concerned businesses about the future of health coverage. The number of employees (49) seems to be a deciding factor and the tipping point for making the decision. It also seems to hinge upon the owners belief that providing health coverage is a core benefit of the company, and one that is done to attract and retain employees.
I want to share these questions to get you thinking about this now and not wait until your 30 days from your renewal date. This isn’t a typical year and you need to think about what you’re going to do… now. We are here to help with this. NSCA can help you network with others and get you pointed in the right direction. Leave your comments below with more questions you have in preparation for 2014. Be on the lookout for more webinars and information from NSCA to help you prepare. – CW