State Rep. Barbara Sears outlines latest health care changes affecting business owners

By Wendy Cornett

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Barbara Sears, State Rep. District 47 and Senior Vice President of Employee Benefits at Roemer Insurance

Recent changes in the Affordable Care Act and legislative changes will mainly impact smaller businesses, particularly those with two to 50 employees, said Barbara Sears, State Rep. District 47 and Senior Vice President of Employee Benefits at Roemer Insurance in Toledo.

“In the past, small business owners were penalized because they had to offer coverage for those working more than 25 hours. That’s been raised back up to 30 hours, so that small businesses are treated similarly to larger businesses,” Barbara explained.

Another positive change for Ohioans is the availability of affordable, short-term health insurance policies lasting 12 months. These plans are popular for those moving from college to employment, for those moving from one job to another, or for those simply needing to purchase an affordable policy.

“What was happening, particularly because of the Affordable Care Act, is that if an individual terminated their employment and took COBRA for a couple of months, and then decided they couldn’t afford COBRA, they couldn’t get coverage again until the open enrollment period,” Barbara said. “Individuals could conceivably have almost a one-year gap in coverage. Extending these short-term policies from six months to 12 will cover that period of time, and the plans will remain cost-effective for individuals and younger folks.”

Small business owners, however, aren’t the only ones who need to pay close attention to changing legislation.

“We talk a lot about the impact on smaller businesses, but it affects larger businesses also,” Barbara continued. “The Affordable Care Act has made it critical for larger business owners to be aware of the number they’re employing and the hours those folks are working.”

And employers both large and small need to pay attention to where they fall in the penalty rankings, she added.

“There are rules now that talk about affordability issues; there are rules that talk about the number you employ; and depending on what those numbers are, you might be at risk of being penalized.”

Larger businesses, in particular, might also face fewer plan choices as the carriers themselves cull their offerings to meet the needs of the average individual.

Navigating the ever-changing health care landscape isn’t easy. Roemer Insurance specializes in staying current on changes in the Affordable Care Act and can help business owners understand how these changes impact their business and tailor a benefit program to meet their specific needs.

“If a business owner has questions about their health insurance, we stand ready to help them,” Barbara added. “Whether it’s questions about the actual rules of the Affordable Care Act; whether it’s making sure they’re in compliance and prepared for a Department of Labor audit; or whether they want to make sure their health insurance program is as competitive as it can be, we absolutely are ready to assist employers as they look at what their future choices are.”

Businesses and individuals with questions about the Affordable Care Act are encouraged to contact Roemer Insurance at 3912 Sunforest Court in Toledo. Call 419-475-5151, visit http://www.roemer-insurance.com or email Barbara Sears at searsb@Roemer-Insurance.com.