This is a time of great uncertainty for employers facing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Health benefits providers, insurance agents, brokers and trade associations are trying to draw your attention to their version of what the Affordable Care Act requires, how they alone have discovered a way to avoid some of those requirements and costs, or how they might convince the federal government to change the law to make things better for you.
Our advice: Be skeptical. Ask specific questions. Get second and third opinions.
The Affordable Care Act will dramatically alter employer-provided health benefits. There is no sugar coating: Among its many major provisions, two key tenets of the law include a prohibition on policies with annual and lifetime caps. Those are two key tools that have allowed Western Growers Assurance Trust and other health benefits providers in the agriculture industry to create low-cost plans that are accessible for many agricultural workers, especially field workers.
Western Growers is the only California agriculture trade association with a team of full-time government affairs professionals based in Washington, DC. Our team has been working for years on potential changes to the Affordable Care Act that would allow these tools to continue in use, in some limited manner, for agriculture employers offering health benefits to field workers. We will continue to press our case. But you should not be misled: With members of both political parties opposed to opening up the Affordable Care Act, the chances of Congress passing, and the President signing, such changes to the law are very low.
For many months, Western Growers Assurance Trust and Western Growers Insurance Services experts have been working with individual customers on a case-by-case basis to help our members determine whether to continue offering health benefits under the ACA, and if so, to determine the right solution, whether that is a WGAT policy, some other insurer’s product, or a self-insurance program. We have developed a sophisticated “health benefits calculator” that factors an employer’s unique data and needs – including full-time, part-time, and seasonal employee calculations – to produce an honest and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for each customer.
As a member-governed association, our mission is not to sell you health benefits. Our mission is to help you sort out the complexities confronting all employers under the Affordable Care Act and give you the best and most accurate information to make a well-informed decision about whether to offer benefits and, if so, what product or approach is most cost-effective for you.
Western Growers will continue to fight for sensible health care reforms that recognize the realities of our unique workforce. If we believe a positive change is within reach, we’ll tell you, but only if it’s real. In the meantime, we hope you will look to us to help you understand the Affordable Care Act’s requirements, and to evaluate your best course of action in a candid and clinical manner that places your interests first.
Contact us with questions at 800-333-4WGA or HealthCareReform@wga.com
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