Over 300 people came to the inaugural Brooklyn Health Summit on July 31 to learn more about the impending changes to the country’s health insurance system and what that means for New Yorkers throughout the state and in the city and borough.
Held at Brooklyn College and hosted by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the event featured informational and Q&A sessions with the state Department of Health, health underwriters, health insurance representatives, insurance brokers, small business representatives, and academics.
The most common questions included how the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would affect businesses, how it would affect options for the average consumer and employee, and what people need to know in order to make sense of and navigate the new arena.
There was a main keynote panel and two breakout sessions—one for brokers and one for the average curious/confused person or businessowner—that tried to answer these questions.
One takeaway was the fact that the current Brooklyn HealthWorks plan for small businesses will be absorbed into the new state health insurance exchange, known as Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). SHOP will apply to small businesses with 2 to 50 employees; some businesses may qualify for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credits.
“SHOP is a “brass-ring moment” that leverages federal dollars, and will hopefully allow small business owners to opt into health insurance in ways not done before,” said Marjorie A. Cadogan, executive deputy commissioner of NYC Human Resources Administration’s Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access.
For average consumers, there is an Individual Exchange, the details and cost tiers of which will be available for cost-comparison in a month or so, once participating insurance companies finalize their premiums and rates. Plans will be tiered according to metal, as in Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Catastrophic care plans. Silver is considered the standard in most states.
Some other takeaways include the fact that annual limits on benefits are no longer allowed as of 2014, the 60 percent threshold is still in place, there is no requirement to fund the penalty is delayed until 2015, and all businesses must provide notice of options to employees.
In addition, the Chamber’s nonprofit arm, Brooklyn Alliance, was selected to operate the “In-Person Assistor/Navigator Program,” which essentially provides health insurance counselors for New Yorkers with questions about the new program.
Both exchanges go live for registration on October 1. It won’t be effective until January 1, 2014.
For more information on New York’s health insurance exchange, visit http://www.healthbenefitexchange.ny.gov/.