Implementing the Affordable Care Act in California

According to an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Michael Lujan (who until August 09, 2013, was head of sales and marketing for small business at Covered California, the statewide health insurance exchange created to administer the federal Affordable Care Act), “mapped out what small business owners can expect when major provisions of the new health care law go into effect in January” 2014.

Introducing the Affordable Care Act to California

“Lujan, a longtime insurance agent, spoke to a crowd of about 50 local small business owners and insurance agents at a workshop (in July) at Cabrillo College. He was invited by state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, to help explain what businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be required to do under the new law that requires individuals to carry health insurance.”

“Lujan said. ‘There is no mandate for small businesses to offer health insurance. There are no fines except for individuals. The employer penalty (for those with more than 50 employees) has been delayed to 2015.'”

Affordable Care Act exchanges open in October

“Starting in October, individuals can enroll for health insurance through Covered California, which will provide a pool of coverage options and rates offered by various insurance companies. As an incentive, employers who pay some of the premium for employees will receive federal tax credits.

“‘It’s a myth that this all public health plans,’ Lujan said. ‘They’re not. They’re private plans that will compete to earn your business based on price, benefits and quality of networks.'”

“According to Lujan, there are an estimated 5.3 million people in California without health insurance, and about half would qualify for federal subsidies in the way of tax credits. Insurance subsidies are available for individuals earning less than $46,000 a year and a family of four with annual income of less than $96,000.

“Health insurance is considered affordable if it’s less than 9.5 percent of an individual’s gross income, Lujan said.

“People who don’t get health insurance will be fined $95 a year by the IRS or 1 percent of their income, he said.

“If President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act were to be repealed by a future president, California, which was the first state to enact the federal law, would likely continue with the health insurance exchanges, Lujan said. ‘It’s a state law,’ he said. ‘For California we’re going ahead anyway. California would have to appeal it at the state level.'”

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