Health Care Reform- Still On Schedule

by | September 3, 2013

Blog written by Lauren Burgon, Equinox Business Law Group

With news stories nearly every day about delays and changes to Healthcare Reform, employers may be unsure which provisions are still scheduled to go into effect in 2014.

For employers already offering coverage to their employees, the following changes are still on-schedule:

  1. September 23, 2013- Updates to HIPAA/HITECH compliance deadline.  Employers should be reviewing and updating their HIPAA policies and procedures for their covered entity health plan.  Review should include Privacy Notices as well as evaluating business associate relationships and underlying agreements.
  2. October 1, 2013: Employers are required to send a notice to their workers with information regarding the new health insurance marketplaces, which will  be open for enrollment starting on October 1, 2013.  All employers (regardless of size) must produce and distribute this notice to their employees.
  3. January 1, 2014: Cost-sharing limits such as the application of co-payments to out-of-pocket maximums will go into effect.
  4. January 1, 2014: The “individual mandate” goes into effect.  Employers will likely be bombarded with employee questions about the new exchanges and Healthcare Reform in general.  Employers should be preparing specific strategies and educating themselves and their human resources personnel so that they can address the potential issues, scenarios and questions that are likely to occur.
  5. Gay marriage:  The Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)  ruling and subsequent  IRS announcement on August 29 changed the rules regarding treatment of gay married employees.   Employers should be reviewing their policies to ensure they come into compliance, especially in the payroll area where health care benefits for married couples have been historically taxed differently than those for same sex couples. 

Although the “Employer Mandate” has been postponed to 2015, employers should continue to prepare. Employers now have extra time to review their health plans and conduct strategic planning for 2014 and 2015, and in doing so may be able to manage and minimize the effect of Healthcare Reform on their businesses.