Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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October 20, 2013

Employers seek answers on health care law

Businesses should use 2014 to make decisions about ACA implementation.

It’s possible that “affordable” might not have been the best “A” word to use in the Affordable Care Act, a consultant told a roomful of human resources managers at a Wednesday morning breakfast.

“They should have used ‘accessible’ instead,” said Evan Gady of Hylant Group Inc. “I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, but I just think there’s a lot of cost attached to it.”

Providing access to health insurance for 49 million uninsured Americans, including no more denials for pre-existing conditions, is going to be expensive.

How expensive, exactly, is one of the many, many things yet to be determined as the ACA and its accompanying 33,000 pages of rules begins to take shape.

The new law is extensive, to the point where employers are sending 12 pages of benefits explanation forms to employees just to comply with the specific format the ACA mandates, Gady said.

Most recently, many employers sent out notices to employees explaining their right to purchase health care insurance from one of the newly created exchanges, despite the fact a delay in implementation of employer mandates meant they weren’t required to.

Employers may have until 2015 to comply with several mandates from the Affordable Care Act, but they’d better spend 2014 getting ready, Gady said.

“The choice before employers is to manage costs today or pay higher premiums and fees for non-compliance,” he said.

Peformance-based health care, which rewards and punishes providers and employers depending on patient outcomes, is the reality of the new law.

There’s even a new branch of government created by the law, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which will be funded through fees on group health plans, Gady said.

Kathy Horton, human resources director for the city of Kokomo, said she’s estimating the city must pay about $100,000 in fees the first year of the program. Most of that money will go into a pool that will be used to narrow the gap in premiums between younger and older individuals.

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