In today’s BeAdvised, Bob Arnoff blogs about ethical concerns for brokers and advisers around the new health care reform bill. How are you preparing for the switch? What do you plan to do about the dilemma he talks about?

In March 2010, the face of health care was changed forever when President Obama signed a brand new health care reform bill into law. This new law — which does not completely take effect until 2014 — would make it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions, charge those with pre-existing conditions more money to cover the extra costs, cover those with pre-existing conditions while denying treatment for the condition, or drop people with current policies when they get sick. So what does this mean for employee benefits advisers and businesses alike?

What it means is that when 2014 rolls around, insurance companies will be looking at new clients, many with expensive pre-existing conditions that they must now cover. This could equal potentially mega-millions of dollars worth of health care that insurance companies must now fund. For businesses, they must now make sure that every single employee is covered, with or without a pre-existing condition. If a company fails to cover an employee, they must pay the price, which in this case means a fine of $2,000 per uninsured worker. The fine is only waved for small businesses.

Having been signed a little over a year ago, the public has been inundated with information regarding this topic. Everyone from insurance companies to businesses to the average man on the street should be aware of this change and what it could mean for them. But perhaps there are still a few business owners out there who haven’t heard about this change.

While this may seem far-fetched, it is true that not everyone may have heard about the new health care reform. There may be small business owners too busy to read up on this change themselves and instead rely on advisers, who might not have provided all the information. There could also be business owners and advisers alike who want to live in the here and now and think 2014 is too far away to even begin to worry about the changes. This then gives employee benefit advisers a question that they must ask themselves. Do they inform their clients of this new change to health insurance laws and allow them to prepare themselves for what lies ahead or do they wait until 2014 when the law officially tells them everyone must now be covered?

Making sure a client is informed upfront might lead to losses if that client chooses to re-evaluate their situation in light of the health care reform. And yet waiting might alienate those clients who did not know what was coming and thus had no time to prepare. And so we ask you, what would you do? Would you do what some might deem the ethical thing and inform your clients of this change so that they can prepare themselves? Or would you choose the other path and wait until you had to make the change? Let us know what you think advisers should do and which path would be the most ethical one to take.

Do you have any employee benefits issues that raise an ethical question? Let me know and together we will raise the ethical bar in our industry.

Arnoff is author of The Three R’s of Employee Benefits: Recruiting, Retention, and Rewards

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