KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Small Businesses Wrestle With Higher Insurance Costs, Confusion

Many small businesses are facing significant rate increases under the law and have opted instead to renew existing policies, reports The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The law's impact on the Hollywood film and television industry, which relies heavily on freelancers, and the latest extensions granted to those buying coverage in new online exchanges also get coverage.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Obamacare Brings Significant Changes To Small Employers' Insurance
The Affordable Care Act brings significant changes to the health insurance market for small employers, and Karegeannes' experience is common, according to insurance brokers. Many small employers — those with fewer than 50 employees — face significant increases in rates, and many have opted to renew their existing policies early, buying time to see how the law affects the market. "The fortunate group of my clients are staying about par, but I would say that fortunate group is very small," said Jeff Anderson, a small-business account executive with M3, an insurance broker. A few clients, he said, face increases in the range of 50% to 60% (Boulton, 12/14). 

The Star Tribune: Ready Or Not, Small Businesses Face The Affordable Care Act
Amid the confusion and controversy surrounding the rollout of health insurance exchanges, one thing remains clear: For small businesses, navigating the process is not the simple, one-stop shopping experience that some predicted it would be. While the website problems are likely to be smoothed out eventually, changes in how health insurance is regulated and sold suggest that businesses still will need assistance in navigating their health insurance options. Under the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), small businesses can offer several different plan options to their employees through the exchanges, including a “defined contribution” approach that gives employees a set amount of money with which to purchase insurance (Ackerman, 12/15).

The Fiscal Times: The Obamacare Delays Just Keep On Coming
Under this new, seemingly desperate approach announced on Thursday by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, people who have had problems signing up for insurance through the new federal or state operated exchanges will be allowed to enroll after the deadline and still qualify for coverage effective at the start of the new year. Moreover, consumers who haven’t yet paid their first monthly premiums – essential to activating their new policies -- will have until at least the end of this year and possibly beyond. "There's still ample time for folks to research their options, talk things over with their families and select a plan," Sebelius told reporters (Ehley, 12/16).

Kaiser Health News: In Hollywood, Health Coverage Presents Unique Challenges
The Hollywood film and television industry relies heavily on freelancers and independent contractors who are rarely offered health insurance from an employer. Throughout Southern California, producers, writers, actors, editors, camera operators and prop makers move from gig to gig and hold numerous jobs each year. Some get insurance through the industry’s unions – after paying hefty fees and dues and working enough hours on union jobs. Others pay for private policies – or simply go without (Gorman, 12/15).

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