Business owners in Aurora discuss concerns about Affordable Care Act
By David Sharos For Sun-Times Media August 28, 2013 11:12AM
Lisa Carlson of Gallagher Benefit Services Inc in Naperville | Photo by David Sharos~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 30, 2013 7:39AM
Information about the Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect in just months, was the focus of this month’s Human Resources Institute series at Aurora University Wednesday morning.
The event was co-sponsored by Aurora University’s Dunham School of Business and Gallagher Benefit Services, who were represented Wednesday morning by keynote speaker Lisa Carlson, area senior vice president and compliance counsel at Naperville-based Gallagher Benefit Services Inc.
“We generally attract a lot of human resource executives to these sessions, and we know there are a lot of people out there with questions about what the Affordable Care Act means,” said Shawn Green, professor of marketing at Aurora University. “Hopefully this session will at least raise some awareness about some of the issues.”
Carlson told the audience that one of the newest developments was that employers who do not begin the program next year will not be penalized.
“Because a lot of the reporting can’t be set up as yet in a timely manner, there will not be a penalty for employers the first year,” Carlson said. “A lot of the questions at this point center around what employers are obligated to provide and how they can avoid penalties.”
Carlson said the new system is likely to be very taxing on certain industries that up until now did not provide health coverage.
“I’m talking about a Wal-Mart or a McDonald’s that has a large work force that is made up of a lot of part-time employees,” she said. “These companies did not provide any coverage or they had these mini medical plans.”
Wednesday’s audience was comprised mostly of human resource representatives including Bob Guillen of Crystal Lake, who said he has witnessed a lot of juggling by employers recently and the hours they offer workers.
“I think a lot of people want to know about the operational implications,” Guillen said. “There are employers who have let people go and have had to reduce some workers’ hours or increased others. Both employers and employees are kind of in a quandary right now.”
Mary Pullen of Aurora, who works for the American Library Association Human Resource Department as a senior recruiter, said problems exist for lower-income individuals since “the middle class already had insurance and the rich can afford to pay whatever it costs.”
“With our organization, we already have what’s considered sort of a ‘Cadillac plan’ and this new plan might kill us,” she said. “My goal today is to learn more about how this is going to affect us as a not-for-profit group and to understand things better from a cost perspective.”
Edward Price, area vice president for Gallagher Benefit Services in Naperville, said he would like to see “a to-do list” provided for the upcoming year as well as in 2015.
“There is so much confusion, and a lot of bantering going on within the political parties and special interest groups,” Price said. “In the interest of employers, we need to know what to do.”
Carlson cautioned that there are more changes on the way.
“There is a huge body of law out there as well as individual mandates,” she said. “The whole process is ever changing and it has been a challenge to understand it, as well as a lot of decisions to make for 2014.”