Insurance providers: Obamacare ‘here to stay’

By 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.