There’s at least one sentiment those on either side of the Affordable Care Act issue seem to share — confusion.
The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and the Lanier Forsyth Rotary Club tried to help clear up some of that during a breakfast meeting Oct. 15.
The groups welcomed Karen Minyard, director of the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University, as speaker during the annual Healthcare Summit at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.
Minyard said she and her staff have been working since the legislation was approved to weed through the 1,000-page-act to make it more understandable for individuals, families and businesses.
She recalled the evening before Congress voted on the act, known as Obamacare, in 2010.
“I told my family we’re going to go to bed and it looks like there’s going to be some kind of vote,” she said. “And if they pass this law, my workload is going to be tripled for the next decade.”
Minyard presented a brief overview of the legislation to the crowd of about 150 people. She covered topics such as how the government is defining some of the many terms associated with the act.
According to Minyard, the program’s economic classifications are based on the federal poverty rate, which for a family of two is currently $15,510 a year.
In addition, she said some of the terms associated with the act include “high-risk pool,” which she defined as an insurance mechanism created for those previously unable to obtain insurance due to poor health.
Another term Minyard covered was the “health insurance exchange or market place,” which she said is supposed to provide affordable insurance options for small businesses, individuals without access to public programs or employer-sponsored plans and possibly others.
The exchange would help individuals who otherwise don’t have access to health insurance, she said, since the act requires everyone to have some sort of health coverage or face penalties.
As far as businesses, which were the main focus of the meeting, Minyard said they could be eligible for tax credits if they employ fewer than 25 full-time workers.
However, those tax credits will go away in 2016, and companies that employ more than 25 people won’t be eligible for any credits.
The credits are based on number of employees and how much they make.
Companies that employ more than 200 people must automatically enroll their employees in the lowest cost plan the employer offers. Large employers must also notify workers of all their choices, including the right to opt out of the plan.
The act also includes several changes for private insurance coverage, Minyard said, such as no exclusions for patients with pre-existing conditions, and no lifetime and very limited annual benefit caps.