I have had enough information to do quotes, and make final decisions with clients for about 14 days. While I have not gotten to everyone yet, I have gotten through about 100 individuals and 40 group clients.
I listen to, and read, the same media you do, and I hear all the positioning, spinning and attacking you do. But whats happening in the trenches? So far its a mixed bag. Here is what you need to know:
1. (Almost) everything has changed
2. You cannot keep what you have, at least not for long. I don’t care what anyone says, the facts are that all the benefits have changed (rarely for the good). Some carriers are allowing their clients (Blue Cross, Blue Choice) to keep contracts until next September, but they will have to change to the new plans at that time. Alot of Carriers have simply left the market and left their clients high and dry (Carolina Care, Emblem) requiring clients to change on 12/1 or 1/1.
3. Either your rates are going to go up (most states) or your benefits are going to be reduced (several states like NY)
4. It may be in the best interests of your employees to drop coverage. Some of my clients are going this way. If your employees cannot afford the coverage, you cannot pay any more, and they qualify for a subsidy – drop coverage. Its the only way for them to get the subsidy – you reduce your expenses and overhead, and they get much lower priced benefits.
5. The only reason to go on the exchanges is to (a) get a subsidy if you are an individual, or (b) get the tax credit if your small business qualifies. Otherwise, steer clear. The data security on the exchange is very questionable, they are a mess, and you have more options “off the exchange.”
Items 1,2,3 and 4 are not going to change. Item 5 may, if they can get their act together. That remains to be seen. IF you need to go on the exchange, I will assist you – but we may do it by paper. It may take longer, but be a lot less risky. And if you are going to go on the exchange anyway, call me about one of the identity theft programs.