March 6, 2014
Yesterday afternoon, March 5, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would extend the time frame during which those with health insurance plans that don’t comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA] can keep their plans.
HHS said that deadline would be extended by two years. President Barack Obama had said last fall that health plans consumers wanted to keep that didn’t comply with provisions of the Affordable Care Act could be extended by a year through 2014.
Now, any small business or individual health policy that begins on or before Oct. 1, 2016, can remain in effect. That means non-compliant plans could be in use through the end of September in 2017.
The policy was announced by senior administration officials on a conference call with reporters. The officials asked not to be identified, but denied their motivation for extending the deadline was political. They said that consumers and small businesses that would be affected by the change are in need of a longer phase-in period in order to transition to Obamacare public exchange policies or other plans. Insurers transitioning policy holders from “old” plans to “new” ACA compliant plans are required to give policy holders advanced notice of the change-over. It is thought, by some, that given the requirement to notify policy holders that the notices would hit some time prior to the 2014 elections. With the new “extension” announced yesterday, the thought is that these cancellation notices would be pushed beyond the 2014 and the 2016 election cycles.
Important to note that the ACA has specific, statutory mandates for plan construction and the end result of the federal law is administered through various state health insurance regulatory agencies. While the federal government may not penalize policy holders for not having statutorily-required “qualified health plans,” it is by no means clear nor automatic that insurance carriers or state regulators will go along with the extensions announced from Washington.
gbac APG private, association-based health insurance and employee benefit marketplaces will be in place for eight associations by June, comprising some 8,080 employers and 69,000 employees. These private benefit marketplaces will provide association member employers with the broadest range of health insurance and other employee benefit choices unlike what small businesses would be able to access on their own. Within these marketplaces employers will find not only the broadest range of benefit choices, but the guidance they need for compliance with everything from the ACA to ERISA to the myriad tax provisions included in managing a benefits program – all within a safe, secure, robust and competitive environment.
Employers do not construct employee benefit plans for their employees on 2 or 4 year cycles, they need to do it every day. Regardless of what comes out of the benefits industry or from government, our private association-based health insurance and employee benefits marketplaces give association members the peace of mind that they have a home for their benefits management needs.