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Insurance providers: Obamacare ‘here to stay’

Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 12:29 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is “here to stay,” and employers who provide insurance to their workers will need to be educated on current and future changes, said a local insurance agent.

Insurance providers at BancorpSouth Insurance Services, Inc. held an open forum Thursday with its employers, educating them on implications of the federal health care law.

“Be proactive and be engaged in the process,” Andy Impastato, vice president of client compliance at BancorpSouth, said at the forum. “Employers should be serious about approaching compliance issues and be prepared for change.”

He discussed several existing requirements implemented recently, like children not being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.

But he mainly talked about requirements to be carried out in 2014, which include the employer “play or pay” mandate. That means employers must offer insurance with 50 or more full-time employees. “Full-time” is defined as 30 or more hours per week and part-time employees figure into the count. Aggregation rules, or a controlled group, apply and there are special rules for seasonal employees. The Internal Revenue Service published the proposed rule Jan. 2, 2013.

Under the employer “play or pay” mandate, large employers who do not offer health coverage to employees and their dependent children are penalized. The penalty will be $2,000 per each full-time employee minus the first 30. The penalty is an after-tax penalty.

Impastato told the more than 30 business owners to begin thinking about strategic decisions regarding their plans and recommended they consult with trained professionals.

“Every one person’s company is different, so employers need an individualized compliance road map,” said David Perry, vice president of employee benefits at BancorpSouth. “The change is here so the time to prepare is now. The law itself is about 3,000 pages.”

Perry said the regulations, which could be tens of thousands of pages, are just now being written that tell employers how the many facets of the law are being implemented.

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