INDIANAPOLIS — A group of lawyers recently met with
agribusiness leaders to spell out health care changes and how they will affect
Partners from Ice Miller explained that the uncertainty
associated with health care reform is due to the complexity of the new system.
With more than 32,000 pages of regulations and notices, the new bill is two and
a half times longer than the Bible.
“For the first time ever in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
business study, concern about health care has trumped economic uncertainty as
No. 1 concern of businesses,” said Ice Miller partner Melissa Proffitt Reese.
“It’s clearly on everybody’s mind.”
With so much information to take in, attendees had many
concerns. One question on their minds: What do I need to do to keep my employees
and business covered?
According to Reese, recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce polls
indicate that employers are likely to cut hours to stay under the part-time
“People are not going to hire as much because of uncertainty
of how it is going to affect them, how much it’s going to cost them and the
inability to budget for the cost of this law,” she said.
“When you look at some big employers, it’s really expensive.
Delta Airlines is anticipating the law will cost them $100 million dollars,” she
The law also will affect smaller businesses that have less
than 100 employees. This group could include small- to middle-sized farm owners
who hire seasonal help. Those in this category may qualify to take part in the
Public Exchange to receive affordable health care coverage.
Through public exchanges one can qualify for premium and
cost-sharing credits if they fall within a household income level 100 percent to
400 percent of the federal poverty level.
The exchange website launched Oct. 1 to begin coverage for
Jan. 1. The website had several glitches, and consequently only 36,000 of 9.47
million people who visited the website during week one successfully found the
Because of this issue, the time frame to enroll has been
extended to April 1.
“What the act says, what it’s designed to do, is get people
covered under some kind of insurance,” said Christopher Sears, Ice Miller
partner. “It’s about access, so the biggest driver is the individual mandate
that says nearly everyone in the country has to get covered under some kind of
With rare exceptions, everyone must have a minimum essential
coverage, he said. Those who do not opt to receive coverage must pay a tax
“In 2014, the tax is the greater of two things, a flat
dollar amount or percentage of household income,” Sears explained. “In 2014,
it’s $95 per person annually or 1 percent of income. It goes up. By 2016, the
tax is $695 or 2.5 percent of household income.”
There is a concern that healthy, young people will opt to
save money and pay the tax rather than enroll and purchase health insurance. If
this happens, more sick or unhealthy people will opt for coverage, making the
audience less balanced.
To learn more about health care reform, visit