HR Morning recently reported on a series of potential changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as PPACA or Obamacare). After interviewing experts in the field, HR Morning explains how the latest iteration of the healthcare reform law could be much different to the one that first took effect in March 2010. Again, these are possibilities and something that we are sharing in order to help HR executives remain prepared:
A return to the 40-hour per week threshold: In an effort to prevent employers from reducing employees’ hours so that they fall just shy of full-time status and therefore are outside of healthcare obligations, the PPACA put a new standard in place that reduced the minimum amount of hours employees have to work to be considered full-time under the health law to 30. However, this change was met with a barrage of questions on the variables that impact an employee’s full-time status. Therefore, experts suggest that the law may be changed to use the 40-hour workweek most federal laws recognize in order to clear up any confusion and create a more uniform policy.
Changes to out-of-pocket maximums: The government recently delayed fully implementing the law’s limits on out-of-pocket costs (deductibles, premiums, etc.) for medical care. Even when the full regulations take effect, which is now estimated in 2015, there will still be no limit on the charges individuals can incur for using out-of-network doctors. With the system as is—and remember, it could be subject to change—it is important to remind employees of the importance of using medical services and physicians within their insurance network.
A cap on hospital stays: Effective 2014, insurance plans can’t impose dollar limits on the costs of essential health benefits, leading some experts to question how this change will impact plans that currently limit hospital stays. We recommend that you stay vigilant of any changes to this facet of the bill and consult your insurance provider as needed.
An increase in coverage-related fines: This year, individuals will be fined $95 for not obtaining healthcare coverage and current regulations call for that fine to shoot all the way up to $695 by 2016. However, some experts believe the feds may start increasing fines if they continue to have trouble convincing young and healthy individuals—the insurance exchanges target audience—to sign up for coverage on the exchange marketplace.
So tell us, what facets of the PPACA have you concerned? What changes would you like to see implemented?