SOURCE: ParenteBeard


June 25, 2012 15:44 ET

ParenteBeard Quick Poll: Years Later, 63 Percent of Employers Still Unclear on Scope of Healthcare Reform Act

One-Fifth of Employers Polled Feel Paralyzed From Uncertainty Surrounding Supreme Court's Decision

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwire - Jun 25, 2012) - As the nation collectively waits with baited breath for the Supreme Court to make its final decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most employers are still struggling to fully understand its implications, according to a Quick Poll released today by ParenteBeard LLC. What's more, many employers are waiting for the Court's decision in order to even begin planning for the healthcare act's implications. More than two years after it was originally signed into law, the ParenteBeard survey found that less than one in ten respondents (9 percent) say their company has a firm grasp on the 2010 health care reform act, while nearly two-thirds (63 percent) said their companies are "still trying to wrap our heads around it." The poll of 70 employers revealed a lack of understanding of the scope of the act, which is leaving many employers ill-prepared and unclear on their offered health care plans for the near-term.

More than a fifth (23 percent) of those polled said they feel "paralyzed" to do any planning for the coming year given the uncertainty surrounding the eventual Supreme Court ruling. According to Kimberly Duffy-Wylam, President and Managing Partner of Vantagen, a ParenteBeard Company, while only time will tell whether the Supreme Court will uphold the law, strike it down completely or strike down some provisions, there are measures employers can take in the interim to help plan for the unexpected. By following these three key steps employers can help to better position themselves to react nimbly and proactively no matter what the Court decides.

1. Understand the Bigger Picture. Utilize readily available resources to learn all you can about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and what it entails. Despite the complexity of the 2,400 page law, there are endless sources of education at your disposal, from newspapers, blogs, white papers and more. You don't have to break down the law yourself. Other people have already done the analysis, so make use of their efforts.
2. Understand Your Picture. Once you have an understanding of the bigger picture, it's then important to understand how it applies to your company. Find out which provisions are relevant to your company. Many employers are worried about complying with laws that may not apply to them. Now is the time to consult with your advisor if you have one, or engage with one if you don't. Your advisor can help take you from a high-level perspective to a deeper, more specific understanding.
3. Begin Communicating Now. If you feel confused and unsure about how to plan, your employees are more than likely in the same boat or worse. Don't wait for the Supreme Court's decision to begin to create open and interactive dialogues. Keep your employees updated along the way and make sure they are aware of potential changes down the road. Summaries of Benefits and Coverage disclosures and the new W-2 health care cost reporting requirements are sitting on the horizon, making them ripe subjects for at least a cursory level introduction to employees. Being upfront and honest with employees from the onset will help them understand and be more accepting of potentially difficult changes.

"Regardless of the Court's decision, you can position yourself to be prepared to react to the potential outcomes, respond to inquiries and requests from your employees or other internal stakeholders and consider the administrative and design issues that the Court's decision could present for your group health plans," said Wylam." At this stage, it's really all about education, and while you can't control legislation, you can take control of your company's future by investing in the knowledge you need to take the appropriate steps for your company, no matter what outcome."

About ParenteBeard
ParenteBeard is ranked among the top 25 accounting firms in the U.S. A leader in providing CPA and business advisory services to small businesses, middle market companies, nonprofits and SEC registrants, ParenteBeard has 1,100 professionals located throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. As an independent member of Baker Tilly International, ParenteBeard is proud to provide the highest level of service to clients nationally and internationally.

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