In 2010, more than two dozen provisions under the healthcare reform law kicked in. And in 2011, there’s plenty more for employers to worry about.
In total, The Kaiser Family Foundation says 21 provisions take effect this year. Here are seven of the most important:
- The medical loss ratio requirement. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, insurers are required to provide rebates to health plan sponsors and consumers if they don’t spend at least 80% of the premium dollars they receive on medical care (85% for plans in the large group market).
- Changes to tax-free savings accounts. Also beginning Jan. 1, the costs for over-the-counter drugs not prescribed by a doctor cannot be reimbursed through a Health Reimbursement Account or health Flexible Spending Account. Additionally, the cost of non-prescribed drugs cannot be reimbursed on a tax-free basis through a Health Savings Account or Archer Medical Savings Account.
- Wellness grants begin. Funding begins in fiscal year 2011 for grants to small employers that establish wellness programs.
- Funding for insurance exchanges. Beginning March 23, 2011, grants will start being awarded to states to begin planning for the establishment of American Health Benefit Exchanges and Small Business Health Options Program Exchanges, which are meant to help individuals and small employers purchase affordable insurance.
- CLASS Program. The CLASS Act — also known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program — becomes effective Jan. 1. It will provide additional options for people looking for ways to pay for long-term care services. It is a voluntary program that mainly will be offered by employers and paid for by employees. Over the next two years the feds will be releasing details of how the program will work, and employees are expected to be able to begin signing up in early 2013.
- Nutrition labeling requirement. Beginning March 23, the nutritional content of standard menu items at chain restaurants and food sold from vending machines will need to be disclosed.
- Medicare prevention benefits. On Jan. 1, cost-sharing requirements will be eliminated for Medicare-covered preventive services that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.