A recent report suggests that medical cost growth will be lower in 2014 than an already low rate in 2013, both â€œdefying historical patterns.â€ Starting next year, the law also ensures all Americans will have access to affordable health coverage.
We are on target to open the Health Insurance Marketplace on October 1 where small businesses and ordinary Americans will be able to go to one place to learn about their coverage options and make side-by-side comparisons of each planâ€™s price and benefits before they make their decision.
As we implement this law, we have and will continue to make changes as needed. In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right. We are listening. So in response to your concerns, we are making two changes.
First, we are cutting red tape and simplifying the reporting process. We have heard the concern that the reporting called for under the law about each workerâ€™s access to and enrollment in health insurance requires new data collection systems and coordination. So we plan to re-vamp and simplify the reporting process. Some of this detailed reporting may be unnecessary for businesses that more than meet the minimum standards in the law. We will convene employers, insurers, and experts to propose a smarter system and, in the interim, suspend reporting for 2014.
Second, we are giving businesses more time to comply. As we make these changes, we believe we need to give employers more time to comply with the new rules. Since employer responsibility payments can only be assessed based on this new reporting, payments wonâ€™t be collected for 2014. This allows employers the time to test the new reporting systems and make any necessary adaptations to their health benefits while staying the course toward making health coverage more affordable and accessible for their workers.
Just like our effort to turn the 21 page application for health insurance into a 3 page application, we are working hard to adapt and to be flexible in employer and insurer reporting as we implement the law. Meanwhile, here is a quick review of what small and big businesses need to know about the health law and how it will work:
- If you are a small business with less than 50 workers, the lawâ€™s employer shared responsibility policies does not apply to you. Instead, you will gain access to the Small Business Health Options Program that gives you the purchasing power of large businesses.
- In fact, you may be eligible for a tax credit that covers up to half the cost of insurance if you offer quality coverage to your employees
- If you own a business with more than 50 workers that already offers full-time workers affordable, quality coverage, you are fine â€“ weâ€™ll work with you to keep that coverage affordable.
- And if you are a company with more than 50 employees but choose not to offer quality affordable coverage, we have provided as much flexibility and transition time as possible for you to move to providing affordable, quality coverage to your workers.
We are full steam ahead for the Marketplaces opening on October 1. For more information on what is coming check out: HealthCare.gov.
Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She oversees the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.