"If health care reform passes, it seems certain that all but the smallest employers will be assessed some sort of tax or penalty if they do not offer coverage to their employees," said Stephen Huth, managing editor of Spencer's Benefits Reports by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. Huth is a regular contributor to the blog Health Reform Talk. He tracks the employer-provided health coverage business on a daily basis and regularly answers questions on health benefits issues.
Employers currently offering coverage to their employees would see little change, at least for the first five years of the new rules under health care reform. After that, though, their plans would have to meet the same basic standards as the minimum plans offered in the new Health Insurance Exchange that would be established.
Employers might also see measures aimed at increased taxes for their highest paid employees and limitations on health savings accounts, reimbursement of health expenses under flexible spending arrangements and health reimbursement accounts.
The House bill would prohibit taxpayers from using health flexible spending arrangement (FSA) dollars to pay for over-the-counter medications (unless prescribed by a health professional) and also cap annual contributions to a health FSA offered under an employer-sponsored cafeteria plan at $2,500, indexed for inflation.
Health Insurance Exchange, Public Option
The House bill requires that, like businesses, individuals either provide insurance for themselves or face a financial penalty. Those covered by an employer would meet this requirement.
For individuals who are not currently covered by their employer, and some small businesses, the House bill establishes a new Health Insurance Exchange in which consumers can comparison shop from among health
|SOURCE Wolters Kluwer Law & Business|
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