With Portions of Obamacare Set to Begin, Questions Remain

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

In return, the tax credit could be up to 50 percent of the employer’s contribution to the premium if the business is a for-profit firm and 35 percent if it’s a nonprofit. Employers also have to tell their employees about the exchanges, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Generally, an employer that has to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act has to send a written notice that includes the coverage options that are available in the marketplace to all employees by Oct. 1. If the employee is hired after Oct. 1, the employer has 14 days to notify the new employee of the marketplaces.

There isn’t a financial penalty if the employer doesn’t comply, though.

Gearing Up

Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Little Rock has been getting ready for health care reform, known as Obamacare, since it was first approved in March 2010.

“We have done a very aggressive outreach program” to insurance brokers, employer groups and individual members on how health care reform might impact them, said Max Greenwood, a spokeswoman for ABCBS. “We have taken the position that the more information people have, the better decision they will be able to make.”

ABCBS is one of the four companies that will sell insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace in Arkansas. The others that have signed up are National Blue Cross Blue Shield Multi-state Plan; QCA Health Plan of Little Rock, which does business as QualChoice of Arkansas Inc.; and Celtic Insurance Co. of Chicago, through its subsidiary NovaSys Health. (A fifth carrier, United Security Life & Health Insurance of Bedford, Ill., first said it would offer insurance in the marketplace but withdrew its application at the end of July.)

ABCBS will offer insurance in all counties in the state. Greenwood said several plans will be offered in the exchange, but she declined to say what the prices were because as of last week, they hadn’t been approved by the federal government.

QualChoice also will offer a variety of plans in the marketplace, but it won’t write policies in the extreme southeast and southwest regions of the state, QualChoice President and CEO Michael Stock said. Stock said QualChoice couldn’t offer competitive prices in those areas of the state.

Stock also declined to release QualChoice’s marketplace rates.

The Price Myth

Crone, at the Arkansas Insurance Department, said that one of the myths of Obamacare will be the price of health care insurance.



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