With the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act – commonly referred to as Obamacare – many companies are struggling to figure out how to meet the requirements of the law while still keeping costs in check. But the bill includes several relatively simple ways to reduce the costs, says Neil Crosby, chairman of media relations for the National Association of Health Underwriters, in The Practical Implications of 'Obamacare' on Distributors.
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Under Obamacare, insurers may increase the premium for smokers by up to 50 percent. That means that if the base premium for an employee at your company is $400, a smoker’s premium can be up to $600 – and that increase will be split along the same cost-sharing lines as for a nonsmoker. Providing access to a smoking cessation program can be significantly less expensive yet translate to long-term savings for you and your employees.
Also, health plans may offer up to a 30 percent discount for employees who participate in a "qualified wellness program." And for small companies, grants are available to help get wellness programs up and running.
With a little research, companies can offset many of the increases expected from insurers under Obamacare. The key is to start looking now, Crosby says, and don't go it alone. Contact your broker or insurance agent to research your options.
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