As the the government shutdown it prompted continues into its tenth day, businesses must continue to prepare for compliance with the law that prompted the stalemate, the Affordable Care Act. The New Jersey Business & Industry Association will hold an event later this month to help executives get a stronger handle on what the ACA means for them.
The NJBIA expects a strong turnout at its Oct. 30 seminar on the Affordable Care Act, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pines Manor in Edison.
Christine Stearns, vice president for health and legal affairs at NJBIA, said many employers are now entering the opening enrollment period for group health insurance plans that renew on Jan. 1, and the seminar will walk them through the changes that the ACA has ushered in. All health plans must be ACA-compliant by on Jan. 1, and Stearns said employers are now learning how their health plans are going to change in 2014.
On Oct. 1 the new ACA Marketplace opened, where individuals and small employers can sign up for government-subsidized coverage, and there have been early reports of difficulty getting through the healthcare.gov website and enrolling in coverage.
Stearns said by Oct. 30 "Hopefully we will have some clarity on what is happening with the new Marketplace and will be able to share with employers what the new products are, how enrollment is going on the individual side, and how all of this is impacting employers."
Stearns said "I think there are a lot of new products out there that everyone is trying to get a handle on. Certainly, there has been a lot of traffic on the Marketplace website where people have been taking a look to see what is there. I'm not sure that is resulting in a lot of enrollment at this point, but certainly there is a lot of interest."
Employers with fewer than 50 employees don't have to offer health insurance to their employees, but there are federal tax credits available to small employers who qualify.
The ACA requires employers with more than 50 workers to offer health plans or pay penalties, but the Obama administration has delayed those penalties until 2015.
Stearns noted that insurance companies are offering the same policies both on and off the Marketplace. "This is going to translate into changes for small employers shopping for coverage in the small employer market. Their options are changing because the carriers are withdrawing their current plans because they are not ACA-compliant so they have new options they are bringing into the marketplace and they will come with new pricing."
The Oct. 30 seminar will begin with a panel discussion by experts on the changes in the insurance market and their impact on employers of all sizes, followed by two one-hour concurrent workshops. Stephanie Colonna-Romano of Martin Financial Group will address the impact of the ACA on employers with fewer than 50 workers, while Vaughan Reale of business consultancy CBIZ will outline the law's impact on those companies with more than 50 employees.