People can begin signing up for health insurance on the new Health Insurance Marketplace as of October 1, 2013. The website is www.healthcare.gov and the phone number is 1-800-318-2596. You can create an account now to be ready on October 1. Plans purchased on the new Health Insurance Marketplace will not begin to provide coverage until January 1, 2014, so people have plenty of time to look at options and make a decision. The technology to make the Marketplace work easily may well have some glitches so people also have time to let the experts work out the glitches.
The new Health Insurance Marketplace has two sections, one for individuals and one for small businesses (the SHOP). While tax credits are available on both sections, they are not the same tax credits or valued the same. So some small businesses may benefit the most from the SHOP, while others may benefit the most from helping employees buy their own health insurance on the individual section of the Marketplace. It is worth small businesses (those wishing to help provide health insurance for their employees) exploring both the individual and the small business sections of the Health Insurance Marketplace, although a small business and its employees cannot benefit from the tax credits on both sections of the Marketplace.
The new Health Insurance Marketplace will be ranking all health insurance plans into four categories: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. The four categories represent the fiscal coverage of the plans. All platinum plans will cover roughly 90 percent of health care costs; gold plans will cover roughly 80 percent of health care costs; silver 70 percent and bronze 60 percent. The categories will allow folks to compare different health insurance policies much more easily.
The legislative committee that will decide when Virginia expands Medicaid is holding a public hearing on Medicaid expansion on Tuesday, October 15, at1:00 p.m. in the General Assembly Building (House Room D) in downtown Richmond. Folks can also make public comments on the issue by going tohttp://mirc.virginia.gov/index.html and clicking on the “submit a public comment button” on the left. The next regular meeting will be Monday, October 21, 1:00 in the General Assembly Building.
The federal government has a new website dedicated just to helping businesses understand health care reform. The site http://business.usa.gov/healthcare is part of the federal government’s one stop business website and answers common questions and gives businesses some guidance on how to benefit the most from health care reform.
Health care reform requires all employers to provide a notice about health care reform to their employees by October 1, 2013. Two draft notices (one if you offer insurance, one if you don't) are available at: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform/.
Since we know that something related to health care reform will be coming up in next year’s state legislature, we are planning two VMSA lobby days to allow small business folks to talk directly to our elected leaders. We have decided on January 15 and February 19 as the two days for VMSA lobbying. Mark your calendar now and plan to join us. Spending a day in the legislature is a real education and we can make a difference!
Virginia state elections will be held on Tuesday, November 5. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and the entire House of Delegates will be on the ballot.
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