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It will be some time before it becomes clear what all is involved in the new Health Care Reform law.  We at Bates Insurance Group, will try to help you understand the general nature of how this law affects you, a Minnesota company, or resident.  We will begin posting at our web site batesinsurancegroup.com, under “Client Resources”, updates to this law  as they become available.  We have already begun this feature and we hope you find this informative.

So what do we know about this law at this point?  As you have probably heard too many times, the first ten years of the law represents a gradual implementation of benefits and taxes.  Many of the taxes begin this year or shortly after, with a vast majority of benefits not beginning until 2014. One element of the law that was talked about repeatedly was that insurance companies will no longer be able to turn someone down for a pre-existing condition.  That will be true for children immediately and for adults in 2014.   Minnesota already has small group reform, which has been around since the early 1990s and prevents insurance companies from declining someone due to pre-existing conditions.  That law was designed for employers with less than 50 employees.  For large group, insurance companies can deny an individual for these conditions (outside open enrollment) but the State established a high risk pool for those folks, paid for by the participating insurance companies writing business in the State.  Therefore,  not much will change for Minnesotans in this regard.

Many of the regulations incorporated in this law are yet to be written. There will be a federal Commissioner of Health that will be given the responsibility of writing many of the regulations to support the general nature of the law.  This likely could be a lengthy process. New laws will then evolve over time.

There was also much said throughout the congressional debates about insurance companies making large profits offering health care products to America.  In Minnesota all of our major insurers of health coverage are “not for profit”.  These are Blue Cross and Blue Shield, HealthPartners, Medica and PreferredOne. United Health Care, also located in Minnesota, is a “for profit” entity but does not offer products directly in Minnesota.  Unfortunately, this means that these benefits extended by this Health Care Reform law will not be paid for by the profits of our State’s insurers, but from the premiums paid by the clients. In fact Blue Cross of Minnesota asked for an exemption from the insurance company tax created by this law, due to their non-profit status, and they were rejected. It is therefore likely that we will all see increased premiums going forward to pay for this law.

There is no question that health care reform is needed.  Many of us in Minnesota hoped reform would look more like those regulations and benefits we experience here in our State as a starting point, and improving the process from there. Somehow Congress, regardless of party, always seems to make things a lot more complicated than they might otherwise have been.  They did not disappoint us again.  Because of that please check in periodically at our website to get the latest releases on this enormous law with its far reaching implications.

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