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Posted: Tuesday, August 12th 2014 at 11:45am

Healthcare Reform Update 2014 says: Be aware of penalties.

By Marc Eggers Staff
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Sign in was busy and brisk
GAINESVILLE – Don’t look now, but we’re quickly approaching the time of year when healthcare insurance decisions will suddenly take center stage. Open Enrollment for 2015 coverage begins November 15.

With that in mind, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce organized and hosted Healthcare Reform Update 2014 at the Brenau Downtown Center on Tuesday morning.

This marks the third year that the Chamber has organized the event. The four-hour agenda included an update on healthcare reform and a special presentation on employee wellness strategy by expert Dr. Will Clower, Founder and CEO of Mediterranean Wellness.

Over 200 people preregistered for the event, indicating the heightened “need to know”.

But it’s not just employers with a long list of personnel that “need to know”; the self-employed and free-lancers of our economy also need to be informed. After all, if you don’t have health insurance during 2014 you may be subject to financial penalty by the IRS.

“Some people have just said, ‘I’m not going to take insurance.’ that’s fine, but you will pay a penalty according to the year in which you don’t take the coverage,” said Brett Fowler, Vice President at Turner, Wood and Smith Insurance.

Fowler said that the penalty doubles in 2015 so don’t allow the mistake you may have unwittingly made in 2014 become twice the problem in 2015.

“I think the reality, or the rubber meets the road, this year is going to happen when people file taxes,” Fowler added. “(If) they haven’t had coverage in 2014 that penalty is going to apply.”

Fowler illustrated by saying, “If you normally get a refund of $1000, your penalty would be $500…so you’re only going to get $500 (back). It’ll be a rude awakening…but the problem with that is it’ll almost be too late for 2015 because it will be past the February 15 enrollment deadline.”

Prior to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) in March of 2010, and subsequent approval by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2012, the was no federal law requiring individuals to have health coverage, nor were employers required to provide it for their workers.

That has completely changed the healthcare insurance landscape.

Al Trembley of Gainesville was seated in the auditorium early. He is an internet consultant with WSI and is concerned that he knows everything possible as he prepares benefit packages for his employees.

“It’s important that I understand and do my homework to make sure that they’re happy,” Trembley said. “The last thing I would want to do is lose somebody that is crazy-valuable to my business - that I really, really need – because I haven’t done my homework, I’m in trouble.”

“It is daunting,” Trembley concluded.

Fowler recommended that those who don’t want to miss the signup period again, “Starting November 15th reach out to an independent agent…and go ahead and get that decision made by December 15th so you can start coverage January 1, 2015.”

A good resource to learn more about the law is available by clicking here. It’s just a starting point, but it will begin the journey to knowing your responsibilities.

Associated Categories: Homepage, Business News, Local/State News, Politics

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