The below article is an excerpt from the Raleigh News & Observer, where our own Gray E. Pendleton was quoted about the Affordable Care Act/ Obamacare/ Health Care Reform. His comments in bold.
Column: Health care deadline approaching
CorrespondentMarch 24, 2014
A health care enrollment deadline is looming for small-business owners and the self-employed.
March 31 is the last day to secure medical insurance coverage for 2014 on the health insurance marketplace, or exchanges, created by the Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010 and has been rolling out in phases, includes something called the “individual mandate,” which requires adults to get health insurance coverage.
Those who remain uninsured face the possibility of paying a penalty or fine.
One of the key components of the Affordable Care Act is allowing taxpayers, the self-employed, small-business owners and anyone who doesn’t have access to health care coverage through work the opportunity to buy affordable coverage without any regard for pre-existing conditions.
As a general rule, you can only purchase plans through the health insurance marketplace each year during an open enrollment period.
That open enrollment for 2014 ends March 31, and the open enrollment period to purchase coverage for 2015 begins Nov. 15.
The exception to purchasing during open enrollment is a qualifying life event such as a marriage, a divorce or the birth of a child.
The exchanges are designed to provide a transparent place to shop for that coverage and compare prices. But those aren’t the only place to purchase insurance.
Gray Pendleton, account executive at Pendleton Financial in Raleigh, suggests using a broker or an agent to navigate insurance options no matter how big or how small your company might be.
“The process of securing health care coverage without help is more complicated now than it ever has been,” Pendleton said. “It is essential to have a consultant with the capability to advise on complex compliance issues. In today’s environment of heightened regulation, in-house compliance and legal counsel at employee benefits firms is a must.”
Pendleton said despite the new regulations and all the compliance issues, it shouldn’t be overwhelming for a small-business owner to secure individual or group health care coverage.
“While the number of health insurance companies to choose from in North Carolina is limited, there are many creative solutions within each company that provide great care at a reduced cost compared to traditional plans,” he said.
While coverage may be mandatory, purchasing it off the exchange is not. Like so many issues that face the self-employed and those who own their own small businesses, the decision of what insurance to buy and where to buy it will require research and careful consideration.
Carla Turchetti is a small-business writer and journalist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org."
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