The sounds you hear are brokers retiring and insurance companies planning to leave the health insurance market now that Obamacare is here to stay.  With that, a large percentage of employers will begin to evaluate eliminating the health plan that covers their employees. Many will pull the trigger in 2014, opting to steer employees to Obama exchanges, while cancelling their plans. 

Me, I am doubling down. Since the law passed in March 2010, I have made it my business to understand and explain how Obamacare would affect employers, individuals, health providers and the rest of the American health care system. After my explanations, I always would add the words. “If it is not repealed.”

Now that Obamacare is here to stay,  I now must re-commit to knowing all of the ins/outs of the entire 2,700 page monstrosity.  Nobody is better suited to advise employers and individuals than me and my team.  Yes, this will require unlimited hours of reading, webinars, seminars, trips to Washington and follow-up study.  Bring it on! 

We don’t have much time.   January 1, 2014 is the date when Obamacare fundamentally transforms how people will get health care.  That is the date when exchanges open, and subsidies and penalties begin. That is only 13 months away!

Employers need advisers who can help them understand the pros and cons of keeping or terminating their plans. If they keep their plans, cost control will be a must, and they will need more guidance than ever in staying in compliance with the Obamacare law, and the hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations that go along with it. 

If they choose to terminate their plans, they will need guidance to determine what subsidies are available for employees, and how to minimize their penalty taxes which were validated by John Roberts and the Supreme Court. Employers will also want experts to help their employees to adjust to the harsh new world of government health care. We will need to develop call centers and advocates who can help employees navigate through the harsh bureaucracy that will surely follow. 

Individuals and employees will soon be facing several questions:  Do I purchase a policy for my family at the Obama Exchange, or do I go without? Why should I purchase a policy now, if I can get one anytime? How long would I need to wait for coverage if I waive it now?  What exposure do I have if I wait? What fines will I need to pay if I opt out of getting coverage?

Some will purchase coverage through the exchange right away and will need assistance. Many others will go without coverage, but will opt for mini-indemnity plans that may cover themselves for a period of one year or less, while they wait to get into the exchange. Still others will go with no coverage, pay the fine, and then they will need help getting coverage in if an emergency arises.

Since Hillary Clinton’s proposal in the 90s, I have fought government run health care.   But after the election it’s time to concede it is here, and it is not likely to go away anytime soon. 

But people will always need health care, and businesses need advice on how to keep their costs down, and their employees happy. I guess my job has not changed that much. 

Petno is an employee benefit adviser with Accelerated Benefits Consultants in Cleveland. Reach him at dpetno@gmail.com.

 

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