November 6, 2013

What this Tree-hugging Employer Thinks about the ACA

ACA Paperwork Sea

Earlier this past month, prior to the opening of the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces, I posted my thoughts, as an employer, on providing healthcare insurance for my employees.

And you can quote me.

Really President Obama, you couldn’t tell the Secret Service to meet you down at Starbucks with a fresh laptop and an Internet connection, to see if you could personally log into and enroll your own family through the website? Before you released it?

Given that this cozy little scenario apparently didn’t happen, we are left with what is going on now. For my own company, the short story is that we had a state-sponsored plan, where the state oversaw the terms and conditions, as well as capping the fees charged by a private insurer to qualified small businesses in Arizona. Sound familiar? Socialism? Well, the current Arizona plan is set to go away on January 15th of 2014. None of my new employees are allowed to enroll. So we have a bit of a gap.

One last thing about that state plan: It prevented the insurer from excluding those who most need health insurance. And it forbade the use of preexisting health information when formulating a price structure. The end result was a fairly good plan. Compared to the private market offering from several insurance companies, it was almost 50% less than the self-regulated market’s best offer. It was, in essence, affordable.

Fast forward to today. What we are seeing is our current administration pulling what I refer to as a “Bush.” Pulling a “Bush” is defined as follows: “when someone foregoes, replaces, or feigns common sense, good management, judgment, and knowledge; and instead exchanges it for bravado and overconfidence.” As we are all aware, leaders who surround themselves with idiots and ideologues are doomed. I’m afraid my president is surrounded and has no one to blame.

There is one other factor that I am coming to understand and must concede: that the federal government is simply not capable of administering this kind of healthcare transition in accordance with its current strategy and given the current set of limiting factors.

What’s preventing it? It’s not that I believe or agree that the federal government is always evil, or even incompetent. As far as I can tell, the problem is that trying to enact this plan is, in effect, combining the ineptness and naiveté of certain aspects of the federal government with what is, in my opinion and experience, the thoroughly underhanded and evil business model followed by most health insurance providers. In short, it’s not going well.

And that’s not news to you. At this time, my own company is using a private broker and a CPA to help us sift through both the SHOP and private options. It has not been easy, affordable, quick, accessible, or timely. In fact, even though I’m surrounded by three full-time attorneys, a master’s-level HR expert, a financial manager and a CPA, we are no closer to a solution than we were 45 days ago.

I’m determined to document one employer’s struggle, whether successful or not, to find affordable care under the Affordable Care Act. On that note, the next installment in this saga, which I will relay to you as soon as I can, is likely to be about the experts who are helping us and what we are learning. I also hope to tell you that we’ve settled on a plan, and explain how we came to that decision.

Good luck to all of you in the same leaky boat!

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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