Are You Prepared for Obamacare?

SEMA News—June 2013

CHRIS KERSTING

Are You Prepared for Obamacare?

Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO It has become fairly routine for businesses to periodically review health-care coverage to monitor cost and quality. But this year, health-care review will be more difficult. That’s because the Affordable Care Act—the national health-care plan otherwise known as “Obamacare”—is being phased in, bringing with it new rules about how companies offer health care.

The law took effect in 2010, but its most consequential requirement—that all individuals obtain minimum levels of coverage on their own or through their employer—takes effect next year. Starting in 2014, large companies (50 employees or more) must decide whether they will offer affordable coverage or pay a fine. Under the law, companies with 49 workers or fewer have no obligation to offer coverage. Insurance exchanges, both public and private, will take effect to help insurance buyers shop for affordable coverage. These are just a sampling of the highlights. There will be more regulations to consider year by year until the law is fully implemented in 2020.

Looking forward, implementation of the new health-care law has so many complexities and unknown variables that it is difficult to accurately predict its effect on the cost of health-care premiums. Options will vary for companies based on size and other factors, and final decisions will be different for each business. But one thing is clear: It’s time to recognize that changes in our health-care obligations are going to happen and that employers must act now to develop a strategy. Smart business owners will be meeting with their insurance professionals now, analyzing the alternatives and acting accordingly.

Here at SEMA, we have been consulting with experts on the topic ourselves. To assist SEMA members, this month’s SEMA News includes a comprehensive article about Obamacare. SEMA’s government affairs staff is also working diligently to stay ahead of new regulations for implementing the law and to provide guidance on how that law may impact member companies. We are developing a webpage on the topic and will post relevant information as it becomes available.

While the law seeks to work within the traditional private insurance, employer-based system, it still represents a seismic shift in the way many individuals and companies shop for coverage and the obligations faced by both groups. There will no doubt be consequences—intended or otherwise—as we move toward full implementation in 2020. It’s possible that adjustments to the law may be made along the way as the implementation process unfolds. With that in mind, SEMA will be working with a number of organizations to pursue meaningful reforms that may help stabilize or reduce the cost of health-care premiums, and we will be looking at other ways we can ease this transition for our members.

So, are you prepared for Obamacare? If not, it’s time to determine the best path for complying with the law, and do so soon.

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