Health Care Update: Now what?HR Resource
September 4, 2012 — 1,586 views
There have been many changes to the United States' health care legislation over the past few presidential administrations, and recently, the so-called "ObamaCare" initiative was signed into law by President Barack Obama.
On March 23, 2012, the president signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), officially endorsing it and making it a part of United States law. However, there was a flurry of controversy around this action, as some pundits claimed the legislation was unconstitutional. However, the United States Supreme Court ruling on June 28, 2012, upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare and silenced many critics of the law.
"The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the Court's majority opinion. "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness."
Nevertheless, with all of the hype surrounding the buildup to this decision, many benefits professionals have found themselves asking "What now?" Basically, these employees and experts need to study the intricate changes that will come into effect in the near future.
Two separate changes will be enforced in 2013, one in January and the other in August. The first will revolve around the income of people who make more than $200,000. Every individual person who makes this much will have an additional 0.9 percent tax applied. The utmost threshold for a married couple will be $250,000, which means the total joint compensation. A separate Medicare tax of 3.8 percent will go toward unearned income of these individuals.
The second initiative will regard religious institutions that were previously given one year to adhere to the contraceptive mandate, which requires all organizations to provide contraception benefits (such as birth control) to all eligible employees. In the past, some religious organizations were exempt, but as of August 1, 2013, this will no longer be the case.
Several more changes are slated to begin by January of 2014. These include limitations on health insurance vendors in particular, as they are explicitly forbidden from discriminating coverage plans based on current or previous health conditions. Benefits professionals should review the document in its entirety before implementing new health care measures, because failure to comply can result in hefty legal fees.