E to E...by Employers for Employers E to E provides information from a business perspective that will educate regional employers about significant healthcare issues to help them make decisions benefiting their organizations and employees.

 Sponsored by Northern Illinois Health Plan

July 2013 Issue

Contents

The Latest News and Views On The Affordable Care Act

The End of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Could Impact Your Plan

Quick Poll – Review

July Quick Poll – Vote

Contact Information

NIHP Home

See NIHP's brochure! Take a minute to review our capabilities and see if we can’t do more to help make your job easier. If you’d like a hard copy, just let us know.

THE LATEST NEWS and VIEWS ON THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Play or Pay Delay

As we shared with you via e-mail, the White House and U.S. Department of the Treasury recently announced that the Employer Shared Responsibility (Play or Pay) portion of the Affordable Care Act will be delayed until 2015. This gives employers another year to prepare for the mandate requiring employers with at least 50 full-time-equivalent employees to offer affordable health coverage to those who work at least 30 hours a week.

According to the White House blog, the decision was made in order to give employers more time to implement the necessary changes.

What does this mean for your business?

  • You may voluntarily implement the ACA provisions in 2014
  • Penalties will not go into effect until 2015
  • You’ll find out more details later this summer from the Treasury Department, which intends to provide additional guidance on the proposed ruling at that time
  • You still need to comply with other aspects of the ACA by January 2014 (see below)

What's Still Expected by January 2014

Several key provisions are still effective on January 1, 2014. Plans are expected to comply with these changes:

  • Waiting periods cannot exceed 90 days
  • Caps become effective on annual out-of-pocket maximums and lifetime and annual limits must be eliminated
  • Revised Summary of Benefits and Coverage notices and a required notice of availability of ACA Exchanges must be ready
  • Excise taxes and fees, such as the PCORI fee and the reinsurance program fee still apply

Start Planning Your Enrollment Communications Strategy

During a time of significant change (real or perceived), planning effective communications strategies and tactics is especially critical. Start now. Here are six ideas to get you started:

  1. Don't overwhelm. There is lots of information out there, but try to focus on what pertains to your plan and helps participants make decisions. Highlight what will stay the same to help provide a sense of continuity and clarify what will change. Don’t forget to explain the state exchanges, if appropriate.
  2. Stick to the facts. You might love the ACA…or not. Don’t put your political beliefs into your plan communications.
  3. Keep it simple. Benefits are complicated enough and the odds are you understand plan details far better than most employees. Plan your communications for people whose grasp of the issues is less sophisticated than yours.
  4. Know your audience. If you have multiple employee levels, don’t count on one set of materials to work for everyone. You may need to tailor messages for different departments.
  5. Use multiple formats. Traditional media, social media, and formats unique to your organization all work together to help communicate.
  6. Milk the moment. Use the widespread healthcare focus to promote health and wellness opportunities within your workforce. People are already braced for change – encourage them to be more active participants in their personal health.

Understanding the Health Insurance Marketplace a.k.a. State Exchanges

As of October 1, private insurance companies will be offering health insurance online through either individual states or the federal government. Illinois and Wisconsin have both chosen to use the federal government website to offer options to their citizens, who will be able to compare plans based on price, benefits, quality, and other important features. Help will be offered online, by phone, by chat, or in person at 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Some employees may choose exchange options instead of your healthcare plan. If that happens, you will no longer contribute money toward their insurance and will not be able to deduct their coverage costs as a business expense. Their taxes could actually go up. Each employee will have to determine which option is right for him/her. Employees should understand there are both advantages and drawbacks of the health insurance exchanges in case they decide to use them instead of the company's coverage.

Watch the Health Insurance Exchanges video for more basic information about the exchanges.

Head spinning? Call us for answers.

NIHP can help you navigate all the ACA healthcare policy changes. For more information on the Affordable Care Act and what it means for you and your employees, contact us at 815-599-7050 or 800-723-0202.



THE END OF THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT (DOMA) COULD IMPACT YOUR PLAN

When the Supreme Court declared parts of DOMA unconstitutional, it declared the federal definition of marriage as a legal union only between one man and one woman as obsolete. Now, same-sex couples who are married in the states where it is legal must be treated as spouses under federal law. From a benefits standpoint, the fallout is still unclear.

What IS clear is that many potential programs may be impacted, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, HSAs, FSAs, and the Affordable Care Act. NIHP will closely follow these issues and update you as more details emerge. Please call us if you have any specific questions about your plan.


FURTHER READING

Affordable Care Act

Communicating the ACA

Health Insurance Marketplace (State Exchanges)

Defense of Marriage Act



A Quick Review of Last Issue's "Quick Poll"

In the April 2013 issue of E to E we asked readers, "Based on what you know, do you think your business will be required to pay the Comparative Effectiveness Research Fee?" Specific survey results are noted in the chart, below.

April Quick-Poll Summary



July Quick Poll – Vote

Do you plan to increase your benefit communications this year because of the Affordable Care Act?
(Click a response to vote. Answers are strictly anonymous.)

Then, visit the NIHP website to view this issue's quick poll results.


For more information contact us at:
(800) 723-0202 or NIHPCustomerService@nihp.com

Northern Illinois Health Plan

773 W. Lincoln Blvd, Suite 402, Freeport, IL 61032

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