Local Experts Explain Healthcare Options

Local Experts Explain Healthcare Options

On November 15, business professionals, community leaders, and residents attended the Chamber’s Norfolk Biz Matters: Understanding the Affordable Care Act presentation at The Roper Center at Tidewater Community College.

This event included a panel of business leaders who discussed the implications of the Affordable Care Act on the business community. Kathryn Barrett, former WVEC-TV 13 Medical News Editor, moderated the discussion. The panelists explained healthcare options and what employers need to know about the new law.

Cher Wynkoop, an attorney at Willcox & Savage, explained that U.S. citizens and legal residents will be required to have “minimum essential coverage” for themselves and their dependents beginning on January 1, 2014, or face a tax penalty. Small employers (less than 50 employees) will not be required to offer coverage at all, and the federal marketplace may be a good option for some. However, larger employers (those with more than 100 employees) may face new requirements and penalties under the employer shared responsibility.

Michael Dudley, President of Optima Health Plans, explained which changes have already been implemented, such as free preventative care and an increase in payments to PCPs for Medicaid. He said that with new benefits comes new costs. which will be determined by age, area, and tobacco use. Dudley predicted, “In addition to these new benefits, we are going to see higher premiums in the coming years.”

Shira Itzhak, Owner of Remedy Staffing, discussed how the Affordable Care Act impacts businesses of all sizes. She said, “Companies with less than 50 employees are likely to see little financial impact, whereas companies with 50 to 300 employees will see tremendous financial impact. Companies with over 300 employees will see additional costs associated with compliance.” According to the “Pay or Play”  Employer Shared Responsibility Payment, companies can choose not to offer a healthcare plan and pay a $2,000 penalty for each employee if they have less than 30 employees.

Scott Wells, Vice President of Sales at Tower Benefit Consultants, explained individual and employee benefit solutions. He expanded on the importance of having an action plan and understanding what you need to do as a business owner. Wells stressed the importance of building an infrastructure to support that decision.

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