About 200 businessmen and women packed the Westchester County Association's Lunch & Learn: How the Exchanges will Impact How Business Buys and Uses Health Insurance today in Tarrytown, N.Y. to hear an all-star panel of experts describe how the Affordable Care Act will impact the health insurance market place...
|L-R: Panel Moderator Dr. Hillary Knepper, MPH of Pace University with Sol Ross, Director of Business Outreach, United States Health & Human Services, Washington, DC, at the May 17, 2012 Health Insurance Exchange Luncheon hosted by the Westchester County Association in Tarrytown, New York. |
Business--large and small--will be impacted by changes in the Federal law that's slated to go into effect in 2014, barring a Supreme Court ruling on the subject.
Nancy Taylor, Esq., one of the nation's foremost experts on healthcare reform, who has helped draft national policy, says that the Exchanges are "essentially an insurance marketplace for individuals and small groups" to shop for health insurance. "In the Affordable Care Act, there is $600 billion in tax credits available to help the neediest," she adds. The 34 states that are actively engaged in setting up Exchanges will be eligible for the tax credits.
According to panelist Sol Ross, Director of Business Outreach for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, small business currently lacks the purchasing power and the knowhow to pay less for employee healthcare. "Small business typically pays 18% more for health insurance than larger counterparts," says Ross, adding that small companies often don't take advantage of tax credits available.
"If implemented today, 1 million people would enroll in the New York State Exchange," says Danielle Holahan a panelist who is currently planning New York State's Exchange for the Governor. She adds that by January 1, 2014, all states are required to develop Exchanges. If not created, the Federal Government will step in and implement. The New York State Exchange has been established in the Department of Health.
"The Exchanges will be like a Priceline for shopping for health insurance," says Holahan who is calling for the implementation of health plan quality scores to aid consumers in their decision making.
Shawn Nowicki who heads Healthpass, a not-for-profit exchange in Manhattan says that Exchanges will help simplify administrative functions for small business. "One sheet of paper will be generated by the Exchange to the small business that details costs across each plan their employees choose."
In addition to controlling paperwork, costs efficiencies are a large factor in the creation of the Exchanges. "Rather than penalize, we look to incentivize healthy behavior like joining health and wellness programs," says Opus Advisory Group's Russ Carpentieri, who adds: "If you're going to smoke, you can smoke, but it will cost you more."
Panel Moderator Dr. Hillary Knepper, MPH cautioned that some of the incentives could lead to hiring discrimination, especially among older adults and those who are visibly obese.
Nancy Taylor told the audience that New York State has the highest healthcare costs in the nation, and she's pleased the business community through the WCA is actively engaged in controlling costs.
When asked about tax incentives that will expire in 2018 for large companies participating in the Exchange, HHS Director Ross noted that Health & Human Services is actively working with the U.S. Treasury to identify a solution.
If you have questions about the Health Insurance Exchanges in New York State, please contact Amy Allen
at the Westchester County Association.