Local Governments Challenged By Affordable Care Act

UntitledMost of the focus with regard to the Affordable Care Act has focused on the impacts for individuals and businesses. There are other groups experiencing changes and challenges when it comes to implementation, including state and local governments.  Like with any major reform, there’s a significant adjustment period and a time of trial and error as players get used to the new rules.  To date, many of the official dates required are still off in the future, so it’s hard to measure exactly what might happen come 2014, but some local governments are already feeling the pressure and preparing for potential obstacles.

Some of the changes that are going to trickle to the local government level include the ability to manage staff and code employees, which may lead to higher costs for the local government administration. There are also penalties for employees who choose to enter a health insurance exchange as opposed to the healthcare offered by the municipality. Finally, there’s what’s known as a “Cadillac” tax coming a few years down the road (2018) puts the responsibility for managing health care costs directly in the laps of some local governments. What this means for municipalities across the country is that anyone with 50 or more employees should consider an educational effort to clarify and inform employees and managers.

Across the board, human resources departments are scrambling to ensure that each community is prepared to meet the 2014 implementation dates headon. Local governments are also already receiving phone calls from citizens about the Affordable Care Act and how that will affect them, once again highlighting the importance of education and understanding in customer service departments. Although there will be a learning curve for everyone, it’s important that those local government employees working directly with the public are clear on how to answer questions, or at a minimum where to direct changes. Businesses are reaching out, too, since they all must be on the same page for implementation.

The biggest concern for many individuals and local governments concern the “penalty taxes” that must be paid by those who don’t comply with insurance requirements. In order to learn more about these taxes and how they may impact your family or business, check out this infographic.  There are some exceptions when it comes to the penalty tax, so read through all of the information. Additional details regarding federal poverty guidelines are also available here.

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