Health Care Reform Update

More important news on the Affordable Care Act front:

1. the Obama Administration announces it will replace the term "exchanges" with "marketplaces"—this may seem like it's just word play, but it matters a lot—it will help millions of Americans understand that the "exchanges" are just comparative shopping websites, a "marketplace" where you can go to pick among various health providers, just like we go to Expedia or Travelocity or Kayak to pick among airlines when it's time to buy an airline ticket.

2. the US Department of Labor issued an announcement on January 24th, stating that the March 1st deadline for all employers to notify all employees about what the "exchanges" are all about has been pushed back to late summer or early fall, so that the notices will hit about the time "open enrollment" at the "exchanges" opens—October 1st.

3. the DOL also announced that employer-sponsored stand-alone HRAs will NOT pass muster under the new law—an employer CANNOT abide by the law by simply putting money in HRAs for employees and telling them to go buy benefits with this money at the "exchanges". The DOL says employers actually have to provide "affordable" healthcare of "minimal value", with "essential health benefits", and that just putting some cash in an HRA does NOT do the trick.

We will continue to provide updates on this ever changing ever more complex law as it develops.

By Bill Sokol

Legal Developments