Georgia County Government - August 2010 - (Page 39)

Feature Federal Health Reform: Implications for Counties Amid all the unknowns about federal health care reform legislation, here is a rundown of what counties can anticipate in the near term. By Rick Jones, CEBS, ARe Jones Management Consulting W hat major changes will affect county governments from the sweeping overhaul of health insurance passed by Congress in March? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will impact every county that offers a health plan for its employees, and many of those that don’t. Most changes will take effect over the next four years, with the most comprehensive slated for 2014. New health plan requirements include restrictions on annual and lifetime dollar limits, expanding coverage for adult children, eliminating pre-existing condition limitations, shortened waiting periods, rules for cost-sharing with employees, increasing preventative coverage and automatic employee enrollment in larger employers’ health plans. And then, there’s the biggest impact — requiring counties to pay for health insurance that meets certain standards or pay a penalty. Most changes apply to both insured and self-funded plans. There is currently much that is unknown about the details of health care reform. Federal agencies still need to write the thousands of pages of regulations that will determine the finer points. This will lead to many surprises. Additionally, there are two congressional elections and a presidential election between now and 2014, so major changes to the legislation are very possible. Coverage for Children to Age 26 One of the first changes to take effect is allowing adult children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until the age of 26. This is the issue generating most questions for ACCG and many insurers. Health care reform legislation requires such coverage, effective with the first health plan renewal after Sept. 23, 2010. For calendar year plans this would be Jan. 1, 2011. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia has decided to offer this coverage early for adult children already on their parents’ insurance plans. Starting June 1, 2010, kids leaving school will no longer be terminated from insurance unless they request it, or are age 26. For those who aren’t on their parents’ plan currently and want to come back onto it, they’ll have to wait a little longer, and can rejoin at the next renewal (after September 2010). This will be July 1, 2011 for members of the ACCG Health Benefits program. However, there is a chance this will also be moved up, so stay tuned. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that coverage for these young adults is not subject to taxation, just as it is not for dependent children. Additionally, flexible benefit plans can immediately allow pre-tax contributions for this coverage even if the plan documents have yet to be amended to reflect the changes. Early Retiree Reinsurance Program This temporary program may make it easier for counties to provide coverage to early retirees. Employers who apply and are accepted into the program will receive reimbursement for medical claims for HEALTHCARE continued on page 40 AUGUST 2010 39

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - August 2010

Georgia County Government - August 2010
President’s Message
Focus on Southwest Georgia
Lee County: Continuing to Prosper and Grow
Southwest Georgia Counties Pursue Real Innovations to Improve the Future
Leading Edge Waste-to-Energy Methane Gas Facilities Depend on County Landfi lls
ACCG Honors 10 Georgia Lawmakers For Outstanding Service During 2010 Session
ACCG Welcomes New Staff
Federal Health Reform: Implications for Counties
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - August 2010