Keeping Nebraska residents healthy includes helping small businesses stay up-to-date on the Affordable Care Act.
And with the law’s major provisions going into effect Jan. 1, Livewellnebraska.com and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska are offering free small-business forums around the state as part of a comprehensive health-related tour next week.
The hourlong seminars, which include lunch or refreshments, will address the major components of the health care law that apply to businesses with two to 49 employees.
“We’re really concentrating on this group,” said Ward Haessler, manager of individual and small- business sales at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska. He’ll be conducting the seminars. Questions will be taken during the last half-hour of each session.
Haessler said there “is still a lot of confusion and uncertainty out there” about health care reform, and the seminars will focus on what small businesses need to know, including:
The forums will focus on the “five things” small businesses need to know about the rules, those five things include:
>> Rules are different for firms with 49 or fewer employees. Employers who are unsure if they employ the equivalent of 50 full-time employees should consult with a certified public accountant or their insurance broker or agent for clarification. The mandates for small businesses in the two-to-49 range are many, Haessler said.
>> There will be 10 minimum essential health care benefits attached to every policy. Beginning next year, all health policies must include pediatric vision and dental care, regardless of whether the person with the policy has children. As another example, every policy — regardless of whether the insured is male or female — will include maternity coverage, which means everyone will help shoulder the costs, Haessler said.
>> Don’t be surprised when you see unisex rates. Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to charge different rates for males and females.
>> Employers may see higher premiums next year because of new rules that limit how much insurance carriers can charge for medical coverage based on age and health status. Before the law, coverage for an older person or an individual with a pre-existing condition might cost five to seven times the amount for a younger, healthier person. Under the new law, the highest-priced plan can cost no more than three times the amount of the lowest-priced plan.
>> Out-of-pocket limits, the amount a person or family must pay each year for health care, are capped. The annual maximum for one person is $6,350; for families it’s $12,700. The cap includes copayments and deductibles but not premiums.