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'Our clients are just regrettably confused' adviser says of Obamacare

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Preparing for the launch of the ACA has been a matter of erasing confusion among clients for some consultants.
Preparing for the launch of the ACA has been a matter of erasing confusion among clients for some consultants. - ()

There's been no lack of buildup to the launch of the Affordable Care Act health exchanges, but for experts and advisers of the new law, the work has just begun.

"There's still a list of other items that are coming up for 2014 that we're working on with clients," said Anu Gogna, a benefits attorney with Day Pitney, in Parsippany.

Much of the work to date has focused on the law's notification requirement — employers had until today to inform staff about the new insurance marketplaces, he said. But 2014 will bring a host of other "compliance items," such as the new 90-day limit on the waiting period for new employees to become eligible for coverage.

Advisers will be busy next year despite the one-year delay in the so-called employer mandate, to 2015, Gogna said. That's because clients will need guidance as the federal government issues regulations in areas such as employer penalties and reporting requirements to the IRS, which he hopes will be finalized by early next year.

Preparing for the launch of the ACA also has been a matter of erasing confusion among clients, according to consultants at Altigro Financial Group, in Fairfield. Brad Greenbaum, a partner with the firm, blamed the confusion on a reliance on incomplete talking points by both the government and media outlets, along with the overall controversy that has surrounded the law since its enactment in 2010.

"You have one side giving misinformation and the other side giving information, but sugarcoating," Greenbaum said. "As a result, a lot of our clients are just regrettably confused."

That has led to uncertainty over technical issues and big-picture questions, such as whether new plans would be available today or on Jan. 1, said David Oscar, managing member with Altigro. He noted he has "about 30 clients who are expecting something to happen today."

Oscar expects the firms to spend the next several months reviewing the financial makeup of its 2,000 small and midsized business clients, he said, with an eye toward determining how they and their employees should approach the options of the new health care system.

"It's going to be a matter of how to best utilize premium dollars and subsidies," Oscar said.

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