The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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November 13, 2013

Official discusses healthcare options

CLINTON — Area business owners and individuals were able to have their questions answered during two Affordable Care Act meetings Tuesday.

Iowa Insurance Division Health Reform Public Information Officer Nathan Kapke spoke at noon to small business owners, gathered in a Mercy Medical Center North meeting room, about what will be required of them with the new law. The Iowa Insurance Division is hosting 22 different events across the state, explaining the obligations and benefits of the program.

“We’re just going out and making the public more aware,” said Kapke, after the presentation. A 6 p.m. meeting was held at Clinton Community College fro individual consumers.

Dozens of area business owners and individuals filled the meeting room, taking notes and asking questions about the Iowa Health Insurance Marketplace. Kapke explained during the presentation that businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees are not subject to the mandate. However, there are healthcare tax credits available to small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees, whose employees’ wages average less than $50,000 annually.

Kapke explained that an employer with more than 50 full-time employees, average 30 hours a week, could be assessed a tax penalty if affordable coverage is not offered or if an employee receives a tax credit shopping online. However, employers can receive a safe harbor if 95 percent of employees receive coverage.

Those not offering coverage will pay a $2,000 penalty per employee, not including the first 30 employees. Businesses that have an employee receiving a tax credit will pay $3,000 per employee who shops online and receives the credit. The cap for the annual penalty is the $2,000 per employee, minus the first 30. Kapke added that a business will never be penalized for both issues.

Questions were asked about how a business can calculate what is affordable for an employee, without knowing about the rest of his or her household. By law, business owners can use the employee’s W2 form. One person asked what a typical “affordable coverage” amount is, but Kapke was unable to really answer.

“What you honestly think is affordable is honestly subjective,” Kapke said.

Kapke encouraged people to contact their area ACA navigators. He added that insurance agents and brokers can also be certified to handle the issues.

“And it’s their job to be knowledgeable about this,” Kapke said.

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