Since the federal government enacted health insurance reform in 2010, NAR has put out a considerable amount of information on the law, including on the basics of signing up for insurance under the law based on a one-hour webinar REALTOR® Magazine hosted in early December.
To provide you with additional guidance, NAR President Steve Brown has taped a 10-minute walk-through on what you need to know to meet the law’s mandatory insurance requirement by March 31 unless you meet one of the law’s exceptions.
It’s a plain-languge walk-through that could answer many of the remaining questions you have on the law. Who needs to have health insurance? What do you do if you already have it? Does your existing insurance meet the law’s requirements? How can you see if you qualify for premium credits, which help reduce the cost of insurance for some households? What’s the difference between a private and a public exchange, and does the difference matter to you?
If you remain unsure what your next step should be now that the clock is ticking toward the March 31 deadline, view the 10-minute video. The goal is is to give you a good idea of what you need to do, based on your current insurance situation The video also directs you to resources for additional help.
Next year is a big year for the health insurance reform law enacted three years ago, but it’s this year that you might want to start thinking about what, if anything, you’ll need to do to get ready.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care act of 2010–what often gets referred to as Obamacare—includes an employer responsibility provison that might have an impact on you if you oversee a state or local association or brokerage.
This employer mandate, as it’s called, requires any employer with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees to provide health insurance for its employees. Right off the bat this would appear to rule out many if not most state and local associations of REALTORS®, because few associations have more than 50 employees. Same thing with brokerages, because many of them, while they might have 50 or more sales associates, don’t have quite that many employees. (Independent contractors aren’t counted as employees under the law.)
If you meet the eligibility threshold, you have to make insurance available to your employees and contribute to the cost of that coverage. Failure to do so means your employees have to get their own insurance (in one of the new “individual exchanges” that are being set up under the law), and you would be on the hook for penalties for the failure to provide affordable coverage.
The law does make a tax break available to small employers if you pick up employees’ insurance costs, and for employees who have to get their own insurance, some tax help is available there, too.
Even if you don’t meet the mandate’s employee threshold, it might make sense from a business standpoint to provide insurance, and depending on a number of factors, you might be able to provide relatively affordable coverage to your employees, especially when you factor in the tax break available to very small businesses.
There are other major aspects to the law that kick in next year, so you might consider meeting with an insurance broker or business adviser this year not only to understand what requirements you face but also what makes the most sense for you from a business standpoint.
In the 6-minute video above, Marcia Salkin, NARs managing director for legislative policy, and Robert Hay, associate director of policy for the American Society of Association Executives, talk about the employer mandate that kicks in next year and put other aspects of the law into a helpful context for you as you decide how the law affects your operations.
By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Health insurance reform will surely be controversial for a long time to come but now that it’s in effect, what does it mean to REALTORS®?
First, if you buy your own coverage and have a policy you like, your coverage is grandfathered, so you’re set and need to do nothing.
If you’re a broker and already offer health insurance to your salaried workers, you may continue to offer your existing plan. It’s also grandfathered; you may continue to enroll new employees and terminate employees who leave your firm without jeopardizing your grandfathered status. Continue reading »