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Small businesses invited to meetings on the health care law: Arkansas Blue Cross to answer questions, provide information


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Max Greenwood @ 501-378-2131



Little Rock, Ark. (August 6, 2013) — Changes under the health care law have some small businesses in Arkansas wondering what to do next. To help them prepare, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is inviting employers with their coverage to attend meetings to discuss how the law will affect their businesses.

Arkansas Blue Cross will hold meetings in nine locations within the state during August and September to outline the new health care law regulations and discuss employers’ options. After the meetings employers will be contacted by their agent or an Arkansas Blue Cross representative to discuss their situation in more detail.

“We recognize this is a stressful time for many businesses in the state, and we want to provide as much information as we can to help them make good decisions for their employees,” said Mel Blackwood, senior executive of Regional Operations and northwest regional executive for Arkansas Blue Cross. While the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced in July that it is postponing enforcement of the employer shared responsibility payments (often referred to as the Affordable Care Act’s “play or pay” provisions) until January 2015, Blackwood said the impact of changing health care coverage for employees still will have repercussions regardless of any penalties in place.

“It is important for small business owners to understand the long-term effects of their choices before they make any decisions regarding their insurance coverage,” Blackwood said. “For instance, if a business has a health plan they purchased before the law was passed (a grandfathered plan) they need to be very sure that it is going to benefit them if they drop that plan, because once it is gone they can’t get it back.”

Employers with 50 or fewer employees may have health plans that are “grandfathered,” “nongrandfathered,” or they currently may not provide coverage for their employees. Grandfathered plans (purchased before April 2010) are not subject to all requirements in the health care law and may remain in place, unless they make changes that reduce their employees’ benefits. Plans that were purchased after April 2010, or employers who have not provided coverage in the past, are considered non-grandfathered and are subject to the new law.

The law requires that newer health plans include a core set of benefits (essential health benefits) and cover preventive services at 100 percent with no member out-of-pocket costs. Also in 2014, non-grandfathered health plans will cover medical conditions that previously required a waiting period.

Meetings will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the following locations: Hot Springs — Thursday, August 8, Hot Springs Convention Center
Jonesboro — Tuesday, August 13, Hilton Garden Inn
Little Rock — Wednesday, August 21, Embassy Suites
Fort Smith — Tuesday, August 27, Holiday Inn City Center
Rogers — Wednesday, August 28, Embassy Suites
Mountain Home — Thursday, August 29, Vada Shied Development Center
Texarkana — Wednesday, September 4, Texarkana Country Club
El Dorado — Wednesday, September 11, El Dorado Conference Center
Pine Bluff — Thursday, September 12, Pine Bluff Convention Center

Employers with Arkansas Blue Cross coverage can reserve a space at a meeting by contacting their closest Arkansas Blue Cross office. Businesses without Arkansas Blue Cross coverage should contact their independent agent or an Arkansas Blue Cross representative for a private meeting to discuss their options under the law. Businesses can access office locations and contact numbers through the Arkansas Blue Cross website, arkansasbluecross.com.

Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 2,700 employees. If combined, the 38 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans collectively provide health care coverage for 100 million Americans.

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