With Portions of Obamacare Set to Begin, Questions Remain

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Sep. 2, 2013 12:00 am  

“I just believe we’re getting excessive with the amount of tax dollars we’re putting towards that,” he said. “This is the opposite direction that we had hoped to go in.”

About $24 million has been spent so far in Arkansas for outreach education, but most of that money has been used on staffing and other programs, including marketing, Crone said. But she said Arkansas needs that money because it has a tall order in working to inform everyone. About 500,000 out of 3 million Arkansans don’t have health insurance.

“If we do a good job in getting people enrolled, then it’s to the economic benefit of the state,” she said.

Crone said she hopes legislators approve the additional $5.1 million — and fast. The money would be used starting Oct. 1. The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

Getting the word out about health care reform could be an uphill battle. A study of about 1,000 U.S. adults that was conducted for the American Institute of CPAs of New York and released last week found that many people had a limited knowledge of the health care law and its implications.

In the survey conducted last month, 41 percent of the respondents said they are not at all knowledgeable about the law and another 48 percent said they were only somewhat knowledgeable, the American Institute of CPAs news release said. Young adults were the least knowledgeable, with 48 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 saying they had no knowledge of the law.

Business Updates

Here’s what people need to know:

Businesses with 50 or more full-time employees will be required to provide coverage, but not until 2015. Businesses that don’t offer “affordable” insurance to their employees could face penalties. (“Affordable” in this case means the employee’s share of the premium can’t be more than more than 9.5 percent of his salary.)

Companies with fewer than 50 full-time employees don’t have to offer coverage, but they might want to consider it.

“It can help you attract and keep good workers who might otherwise go to a competitor that offers health insurance,” Arkansas Health Connector’s website says. “Your workers may be healthier and more productive if they have health coverage.”

Very small businesses will be able to buy insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and be eligible for tax credits to help offset the cost of offering coverage. To receive the credits, the businesses have to employ 24 or fewer workers who have an average salary of $50,000 or less, said Bruce Donaldson, a producer specialist at the Arkansas Insurance Department. The employer must then pay at least 50 percent of the individual premium for the employee, Donaldson said.



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