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Questions, answers on health care act at Batavia Chamber event

BATAVIA – Batavia Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roger Breisch says the new Affordable Care Act has been a source of discussion among chamber members.

“I have chamber members who love it and chamber members who hate it,” Breisch said. “This is not an issue that every small business owner is opposed to.”

On Wednesday, the Batavia Chamber of Commerce sponsored the seminar “Affordable Care Act: Where are We ... and Where are We Going?”

Batavia insurance broker Mike Deagle, president of the Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters, gave chamber members an update of what has happened since the act was signed into law into 2010 and what the law will require businesses to do in the next few years.

The presentation was timely because Tuesday marked the first day the new health insurance exchange opened.

The marketplace allows people to compare prices and shop for health insurance where they live.

“There are a lot of good things in this law, but it all comes at a price,” Deagle said.

For example, he said that beginning in 2018, a 40 percent excise tax will be imposed on the value of health insurance benefits exceeding a certain threshold. The thresholds are $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.

The tax applies to both fully insured and self-funded plans.

In the case of fully insured coverage that exceeds the applicable threshold, the issuer is responsible for paying the 40 percent excise tax.

For self-funded coverage, the plan administrator – normally the employer – is responsible for paying the excise tax.

The Affordable Care Act also requires that by 2015, all businesses with more than 50 full-time equivalent workers must offer health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty.

The act requires that individual and group insurance plans begin covering specific preventive care services with no cost-sharing, unless they are grandfathered in.

Gerry Dempsey, chairman and CEO of Batavia Enterprises, asked Deagle how he thought the act would affect health care.

“Will this act in a couple of years improve health care or will health care decline in this country?” Dempsey asked.

Deagle said he wasn’t sure.

“There is no data to show that more people are going to get preventative care,” he said. “I don’t know if it is going to improve.”

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