Eighty-five owners and managers of small businesses and other Lawrence-area employers met Tuesday to hear from four experts regarding the 2,600-page federal healthcare reform legislation whose provisions start taking effect Sept. 23.
A look at some numbers from the event, which was organized by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce:
Percentage of small-employer groups — those with fewer than 25 workers — who will need to change their group insurance plans during the next 12 months, to reflect several requirements in the reform legislation: People with pre-existing conditions no longer can be excluded; dependents will be able to remain covered until age 26; and limits no longer can be set on wellness benefits. “These companies will need to make business-changing decisions,” said Gerry Hollis, a senior associate for Willis of Greater Kansas Inc.
Number of regulations the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — the agency led by former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius — must implement as part of the reform legislation. “If you do the math, that’s four and a half years, if she could do one per day,” said Scot Buxton, a senior vice president for Willis in Lawrence.
Percentage tax credit, on company-paid premiums for health insurance, available to small employers this year, as long as they meet certain requirements. Eligible for the full credit would be companies with 10 or fewer employees, paying salaries that average $25,000 or less; the credit would decline for employers with 11 to 25 employees, or whose average salaries range from $26,000 to $49,000.
Number of additional primary-care physicians — those in internal medicine, family practice and pediatrics — to be needed in Douglas County during the next four years, to meet expected demand brought on by newly insured patients, said Gene Meyer, CEO of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The area has only 45 such providers now, he said, and without an influx of providers patients will be left to seek out care where they can find it — likely in the hospital’s Emergency Department, where costs are highest. “It’s going to overwhelm the market,” Meyer said.