Healthcare Reform – An Update

Healthcare Reform is upon us! Are you and your company ready? Yesterday, our local SHRM chapter hosted out monthly meeting where a local benefits administrator, Palmetto Benefit Management (www.PalmettoBenefit.com), gave us a comprehensive update of the legislation; where it is, what is next and how to prepare. I thought I knew about the upcoming changes, but I quickly realized that I need to get on the stick and learn more about what to expect.

To date several pieces have been implemented including dependent coverage to age 26, no caps or maximums for coverage and the requirement of a dedicated lactation room.  Fortunately, we already had a dedicate lactation room but this could be a challenge for some workplaces since there are specific parameters that must be met. And the addition of  dependents to age 26 can cause some significant cost increases for some plans. Be sure that you are adhering or you will when your next open enrollment happens. There are also many  changes in the hopper for 2012, 2013 and 2014 as long as future legislation does not change their timeline or verbiage. Check with your benefits team or counsel to make sure you know how each stage will impact your organization.

Currently, there are several lawsuits in various stages contesting different parts of the Healthcare Reform laws. These include the Medical Loss Ratios (MLRs) and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) as well as suits contesting the Constitutionality of the whole or parts of the Healthcare Reform law. But until there is a formal decision or legislative vote, the bill is law and needs to administered and followed in its current form. Companies should (or already have) determine their healthcare band position, plan options and which employee(s) will be grandfathered.

There is little doubt that there will be no changes up to, during and after the 2012 elections. In 2012, there are several congressional seats up for election as well as the Presidency. A new administration would and could have significant impact of the course of the law and any new measures that are implemented. If President Obama remains in office, the Healthcare Reform legislation will more than likely remain the law of the land in some form.

The Healthcare Reform law continues to be fluid and has changed very recently. For example, on August 1, 2011, contraception was added to the list of free preventative services under
the law. What will be next? There are many ways to stay on top of the changes like joining benefits organizations like WorldatWork (www.WorldatWork.org) and the International Federation of Employee Benefit Plans (www.IFEBP.org). For more information, please check out http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform and www.Healthcare.gov.

Don’t forget to CELEBRATE!



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