August 25, 2015 by Tony Novak
For some, the Affordable Care Act brought access to health insurance. For others. the new law means higher insurance costs, higher deductible and more difficulty accessing primary medical care when it is needed. Small business owners are often caught in the middle, not knowing what action to take to ensure that their employees have coverage at an affordable cost. Our entire medical care delivery system continues to evolve in reaction to the new overreaching federal law known as Obamacare, but we are beginning to see some emerging trends within the small business community. Three of the strongest of these trends are listed here.
1. Allow for premium subsidies. Small businesses often employ lower-income, part-time and seasonal employees. Most of these employees qualify for government-subsidized primary health insurance but ONLY IF the employer does not offer a group health insurance plan. It makes no sense for the employer to offer a group health insurance that actually destroys the employee’s eligibility for that government benefit. The introduction of Obamacare was expected to trigger the end of small group health plans and we are beginning to see that trend accelerate. Current law does not allow employers to subsidize the cost of insurance purchased through an insurance exchange.
2. Separate insurance to cover a high deductible. Many people qualify for subsidized medical insurance but then find that they cannot afford the high deductible on the new Obamacare policies. At Freedom Benefits we hear many complaints from people who have insurance but are unable to access medical care. Medical providers are increasingly asking for this payment at the time of treatment. Policy deductibles can be as high as $13,200 under the law and this amount increases each year, according to Healthcare.gov. The average out-of-pocket medical expense is under $5,000 per year so many individuals realize that insurance to cover deductible makes sense. Employers of modest income workers now recognize that it makes sense for them to pay for the insurance that their employees will actually need rather than the primary insurance available through the state exchange.
The Affordable Care Act does not allow employers to subsidize the out-of-pocket medical costs incurred by employees who obtain Obamacare coverage through a state exchange. Small businesses risk severe employer penalties for violating this law. But employers may legally provide deductible supplement insurance and federal policymakers are expected to support measures to further encourage this trend.
3. Telemedicine. Consumers recognize that they need access to affordable medical care on demand. Likewise, physicians increasingly recognize the value of telemedicine services. We see many younger physicians signing up to offer telemedicine as a “moonlighting” service to supplement to their regular employment.
Freedom Benefits offers enrollment in both deductible supplement and telemedicine services. Plans vary by state. See your state page at www.freedombenefits.net