If you’re one of the nearly 140 million Americans who gets your health benefits through your job, the law’s biggest changes won’t have much impact on you. Most employers who offered insurance before the law was passed will continue doing so. And keeping the insurance through your employer rather than buying it on your own is still likely to be your best option.
“The majority of people can ignore this as background noise. For those with employer-sponsored insurance it won’t matter,” says Sabrina Corlette, research professor and project director at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University.
Still, expect to hear from your company about all the upcoming changes.
Employers are required by federal law to send workers a notice telling them about the new insurance marketplaces before Oct. 1, 2013. Even earlier than that, companies will be eager to help employees understand the differences between the health insurance coverage they provide and what will be available through the marketplaces.
“There’s likely to be confusion, particularly for those with coverage through their employer today,” says Mike Thompson, health care consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
One of the biggest concerns is that during this fall’s advertising blitz many people will wrongly assume they can lower their costs by dropping their employer’s benefits to buy a health plan on the marketplace, where tax credits will be available. But you won’t be eligible for tax credits unless your company’s health insurance plan costs more than 9.5% of your annual income.
“That’s clearly one place where people could make a potentially bad decision,” says Sandy Ageloff, senior consultant with Towers Watson. “It’s critical for individuals, particularly for those with employer coverage, to really pay attention to the messaging coming from employers, and to take the time to understand the law.”
Expanding Medicaid: Help Paying for Insurance
Will your state be expanding its Medicaid program to cover more people? This is a development to watch between now and the summer.
Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled that states can choose not to expand their Medicaid programs to cover more low-income people.