Date: May 01, 2013
Magazine:
May 2013 - Irrigation Technology

Are you ready?  Alternatively, are you asking yourself, “When does Health Care Reform impact me?”

Many waited for the election results before engaging in the health care reform discussion hoping for its repeal.  However it is now here to stay and soon to impact many in our industry.  Now is the time to become educated on the many different aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Questions I have heard over and over again are, “What do I do first?” and “Where do I begin?”

Many employers have started doing their homework: asking questions, calculating full-time employees and asking about options for employees to whom benefits are not currently offered.  Others haven’t even wanted to think about how or when the ACA will affect their business.

Whether you offer benefits or not, whether your current plan offering is set to renew this July or January, it’s important you understand how ACA will affect you and your business so you can establish your strategy to comply by January 1, 2014.  Now is the time to start the conversation.  Just like it will be everyone’s responsibility to have health insurance in 2014, you will either have to offer affordable health insurance to your full-time employees and dependents, or you may be subject to a tax.

One of the first things you need to do is determine your current situation. Questions employers should be asking themselves are:

Am I a small group or large group (sometimes referred as an “Applicable Large Employer or ALE”) according to ACA?

How do I calculate full time equivalents?  How are my seasonal workers counted?  How do I avoid penalties?

What MUST I do to be compliant on January 1, 2014?

How will my benefits decisions impact my ability to attract or retain a quality labor pool?

Once you know whether or not you are a Large Employer (50 or more full-time employees), you are on your way to knowing what’s required of you under ACA.  Calculating your full-time employees is not exactly a straightforward calculation under the health care law rules and regulations.  Part-time and seasonal workers may play into your total count, and if you have commonly owned businesses, you’ll need to include those employees too.  We can help you crunch the numbers and figure this out.

Another thing to keep in mind is what your competitors will do in 2014.  Will they offer health benefits to their workers?  How would your employees react if you stopped offering benefits?  Offering health benefits can and will continue to be used as a recruiting tool.  If you choose not to offer benefits while your competitor does, how will it affect your staffing?

Quality labor is at such a premium now, it’s important to keep the great people that you have already trained.

Western Growers team has studied the Affordable Care Act in great detail (2000+ pages of text and thousands more relating to regulatory clarifications being released on an ongoing basis).  Our in-house legal team has dissected this with a focus on agriculture and its unique seasonal employment patterns.

Western Growers is working with its members on health care reform and provides on-going education and training to members on a one-on-one basis.  Additionally, we hosted a series of Executive Forums in March and April throughout Arizona and California.  During these seminars, we presented up-to-date ACA information and practical solutions that will work for agricultural businesses in the era of health care reform.  We continue to build tools to help assess the impact of ACA for a customer’s specific and unique needs.  One example is a proprietary cost calculator that helps you estimate a variety of scenarios related to complying with ACA in 2014.  Staying on top of changes and understanding the nuance of this evolving and massive piece of legislation will help you prepare and plan your budget needs accordingly.

Let us help you and your business make smart health care decisions.  Schedule a consultation today.  For more information, contact your local Western Growers Insurance Services representative, or contact us at (800) 333-4WGA or HealthCareReform@wga.com.

WG Staff Contact

Western Growers
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949-863-1000

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