Posts Tagged - ‘small business health insurance’

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IRS’ Affordable Health Insurance Reform Implementation in Danger

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

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Understandably, most people aren’t huge fans of the IRS. For the most part, Americans communicate with them when they’re taking money out of their pockets during tax season. However, a provision of the new healthcare reform law has the Internal Revenue Service actually attempting to give money back!

The law is meant to make affordable health insurance more widely available through tax credits to small businesses that provide coverage to their employees. Doing so will require more manpower and resources for implementation and enforcement of the program. Some Republican candidates are considering defunding the IRS and other agencies involved to stifle healthcare reform, since it is predicted to take $5 to $10 billion for each agency to fully implement it.

Congress has the power to do so, and does not require President Obama to sign off on a repeal he would be guaranteed to veto. Ironically, one of the most business-friendly provisions may suffer as a result.

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Health Insurance Company Harvard Pilgrim Agrees To Lower Rates

Monday, July 5th, 2010

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Regulators have been facing off with health insurance companies over proposed premium increases that the former consider excessive, and the latter think are necessary to continue doing business.

Apparently, compromise is possible. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care agreed to a settlement with the state of Massachusetts that limits their individual and small group health insurance rate increases. The decrease is insignificant: their initial requests ranged from 8% to 12%, while the new deal has increases of 7% to 11%.

Since earlier caps on premiums set by the state were rejected on appeal, the insurer could’ve kept fighting. However, they chose to move on instead–although they will still lose money under the agreement. Thankfully for consumers, Harvard Pilgrim (the second-largest insurance provider in the state) also agreed not to retroactively bill policyholders since April for the higher rates.

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Massachusetts Health Insurance Company Settles On Increase

Monday, June 7th, 2010

After initially asking for an 11% increase in its small group and individual health insurance rates, Neighborhood Health Plan has reached a settlement that allows them to raise those premiums by about 7%.

Neighborhood was one of six major Massachusetts health insurance companies that appealed and sued the state’s insurance commissioner when their proposals were denied in April. Now, they have bowed out of those efforts.

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Which Businesses Are Eligible for Health Insurance Tax Credit?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

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One of the near-immediate benefits of healthcare reform is the creation of tax credits for small businesses, meant to encourage them to offer health insurance coverage to their employees.

The government has released guidelines detailing which companies are eligible for at least a partial subsidy. They are those that have:

  • Under 25 employees, and
  • an average salary less than $50,000 per year

However, in order to take advantage of the full 35% tax credit offsetting health insurance plan premiums, firms must have:

  • Fewer than 10 employees, and
  • an average annual salary under $25,000

Some small businesses believe that it’s a perverse incentive, given the fact that some companies would have to fire workers or cut their pay in order to become eligible.

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Hawaii Pays Half Of Health Insurance Premiums For Small Businesses

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

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Here’s a new way to encourage job creation: pay a large part of new hires’ health insurance premiums. Hawaii is doing that, largely through funding received from the healthcare reform law.

Small business owners believe that Hawaii Premium Plus is a program that will allow them to afford hiring more workers, since they will spend less in total on group health insurance coverage. Governor Linda Lingle touts it as a strategy for reducing the state’s unemployment rate by one percent. However, some skeptics are unsure if slightly under $11 billion is sufficient funding for such a program.

For each new hire between May 1st, 2010 and April 30, 2011, the program will reimburse employers $1,680 per year. Companies with under 50 employees are eligible, though the program may be expanded if it fails to meet the cap of 6,450. It is intended to increase the number of legal residents who are both employed and have Hawaii health insurance.

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Should Hospitals Pay For Small Business Health Insurance Plans?

Monday, May 17th, 2010

For now, this is only happening in Massachusetts, but it could spread nationwide: hospitals are now required to make a one-time contribution to a fund that subsidizes the purchase of health insurance plans by small businesses. They will pay the insurers directly, and the health insurance companies will refund eligible businesses for two years.

After only one major hospital system–Partners HealthCare–agreed to contribute voluntarily, the State Senate President included a provision that forces them to pay $100 million to the fund. The amounts will be split based on the hospitals’ profit margins and the makeup of their patient populations.

According to supporters, small business health insurance premiums will drop by 2.5% as a result of the subsidy–although they acknowledge that it’s only a temporary solution. Detractors, including the Massachusetts Hospital Association, are worried that the mandatory assessments will negatively impact the finances of and quality of care from their facilities.

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How Could Hospitals Reduce Health Insurance Rates?

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

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Health insurance companies are often blamed for increasing premiums. In turn, they point the finger at hospitals. According to them, hospitals demand ever-increasing reimbursement rates, which must be passed onto policy holders.

A group of teaching hospitals in Massachusetts, Partners HealthCare, is trying to lessen their impact on costs. They are putting $40 million towards a proposal intended to reduce the cost of a small group health insurance plan for small businesses. Insurers will receive the money, and be required to use it to decrease premiums.

State Senate President Therese Murray also plans to propose a change to the current fee-for-service system that encourages uncoordinated care, where hospitals get paid on a per-procedure basis.

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Small Group Health Insurance Tax Credits Coming Soon

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

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Group health insurance will be immediately impacted by the recently passed healthcare reform bill. Specifically, there are now tax benefits intended for small businesses to provide health coverage for their employees.

Here’s how it works: Companies with under 50 employees and an average wage of under $50,000 will receive tax credits. The credits will be for a portion of the health insurance premiums they pay for employees, up to 35% or even 50 percent.

Eligible businesses can receive these credits against their tax obligations for 2009 and 2010.

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