Recent Changes to Obamacare

The disastrous rollout of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) triggered several recent changes to Obamacare. Here is a brief description of changes.

Obamacare Delay for Businesses with more than 50 Employees

Originally, any business with 50 or more full time employees (those working 30 or more hours per week) were required to provide minimum essential health coverage for their employees by January 1, 2014 or pay penalty.  The businesses now have an extra year – the law will go into effect in 2015 instead of 2014.

Recent Changes to Obamacare: An Extension of Grandfathering Principle

On Nov. 14 President Obama announced that Americans whose health policies have been cancelled because they didn’t meet the new ACA standards, have been granted a one-year reprieve. What House called it “an extension of grandfathering principle”. The extension applies ONLY to the individuals who are in those policies today. The selling of those policies to the people who are not already have them is not allowed. In other words, policy changes will only be applied to existing plans, all new plans must comply with Obamacare.

Two things will be required by insurance companies:

  • “Notify consumers what protections these renewed plans do not include”
  • “Notify consumers that they will have new options available on the marketplace that offer better coverage, and tax credits are available for many people”

Now insurers can restart cancelled policies if they wished, as long as state insurance commissioners will allow them to do so. Some policies will be extended by insurance companies (in particular, Special Care plans – see Independent Blue Cross announcement), others – will not.

The extension is for one year only. After that time policies should be aligned with ACA rules or be eliminated.

Recent Changes to Obamacare: Online Small Business Marketplace (SHOP) has been delayed for 1 year

Another aspect of Obamacare has been delayed. The launch of the online health insurance marketplace for small businesses has been delayed until November 2015. This was done in order to avoid slowing technical repairs to the Federal Website.

Employers who want to buy marketplace plans for their workers will need to go through an agent, broker or insurance company this year, rather than using a government website. Small businesses buying coverage through brokers, agents and insurance companies will still be eligible for tax credits that will bring their cost down.

Changes in Dates

The following dates have been changed:

  • There will be more time to buy coverage on Federally run Marketplace that will begin on Jan. 1, 2014. Instead of Dec.15, 2013, the deadline for enrollment was extended by one week to Dec. 23, 2013. After that date but no later than March 31,2014, you may enroll with the later effective date of coverage.
  • Today to avoid penalty you are required to buy coverage by Feb. 15, 2014. This date was moved to the last date of Open Enrollment – March 31, 2014.
  • Open Enrollment Period for 2015 will be later. The previous period from Oct. 15, 2014 to Dec. 7, 2014 has been replaced by the period from Nov. 14, 2014 to Jan. 15, 2015.

There are Some Good News … Finally

The technical problems that made Federal Exchange almost unusable, have been addressed and mostly fixed.

According to the administration:

  • 90 percent of users now able to create accounts
  • The healthcare.gov Federal website in now smoothly handling 25,000 simultaneous users and on track to meet the goal of handling 50,000 simultaneous users.

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