On Thursday, Henry Dunn Insurance hosted a seminar in cooperation with Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to educate employers about preparing for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as well as the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Both large and small group employers are impacted by this legislation, which changes taking effect over the next few years. However, all employers and individuals need to be prepared for the issues looming for Jan. 1, 2014. Issues that have already been implemented from 2010 to date include extended dependent coverage for children to age 26; annual benefit limit restrictions and the elimination of lifetime limits; elimination of pre-existing conditions for children; prohibition on rescission of healthcare coverage; limits on over-the-counter medication reimbursements; and compliance with nondiscrimination rules for fully-insured plans.

This is a crucial time to define employer group status (large or small group); review plan designs to ensure that they provide Essential Health Benefits, are offered to all eligible employees and dependents; define full-time/part-time/full-time equivalent employees, to name a few.

Some key points of coverage mandates under PPACA beginning Jan. 1, 2014, include:

Health Insurance Exchanges will be established in each state or by the federal government; Individual Coverage Mandates, wherein most individuals must obtain acceptable health insurance or receive a penalty; and employers with 50 or more employees who do not offer coverage will be subject to penalties if any employee receives a government subsidy on the Health Insurance Exchanges.

Implemented in 2014 are several health insurance reform measures where health insurance companies are not permitted to exclude coverage for treatments based on pre-existing health conditions; refuse to sell or renew policies due to an individual's health status; impose annual limits on the amount of coverage an individual may receive. In addition, fees and taxes are being imposed on employer groups. The High-Cost Plan excise tax, known as the Cadillac Tax, has been moved to 2018 in the PPACA timeline.

The Henry Dunn Insurance Employee Benefits Team is focused on guiding small and large groups, as well as individuals, in preparation for the challenges that await us in 2014 and the future. We are dedicating our time and exceptional resources to ensure that our clients have the most comprehensive employee benefits package available in the insurance market. Celebrating our 80th year in business, our employees deliver outstanding customer service from each of our six locations in Towanda, Sayre, Williamsport, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Elmira, N.Y., for your convenience.

This article was submitted by Henry Dunn Insurance