Wine industry needs to stay aware of health care law changes

[caption id="attachment_78491" align="alignnone" width="500"] The delay of the "pay vs. play" mandate until 2015 is especially good news for the wine industry, which employs large numbers of seasonal and part-time employees, particularly during harvest, according to one insurance expert.  (image credit: Napa Valley Grapegrowers)[/caption]

Amid recent postponements in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), North Bay experts are trying to keep vintners, growers and other companies up to date with the rapidly changing health insurance environment.

Workshops are being held throughout the region to inform employers about the ACA -- such as one convened August 1 for the Sonoma County Vintner’s Association, sponsored by Vantreo Insurance Brokerage in cooperation with Kaiser Permanente.

Additional sessions are planned as ACA rules are revised, new insurance rates are released and start dates change.

For example, in July the White House announced that the ACA requirement that large employers offer affordable insurance to their workers in 2014 would be delayed one year.

A second delay was issued for the start of a process to verify incomes of people claiming eligibility for government subsidies in order to buy health insurance on state exchanges.'Pay or play' delay 'good news' for wine business

The latest change, revealed last week, delays implementation of rules governing how limits on out-of-pocket medical costs will be determined.

“Although many of the health care reform bill regulations won’t go into effect until 2014 or beyond, employers need to begin addressing issues now to continue to offer meaningful employee benefits and compensation plans,” said John Fradelizio, managing director of North Bay employee benefits for Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA, Inc. “In coming years costs will escalate, tax incentives will change and compliance rules will continue to evolve. It is important to begin creating proactive strategies for minimizing employee health benefit costs by comparing coverage options while also meeting business objectives.”

The one-year delay until Jan. 1, 2015 of the “pay or play” mandate, for large employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) workers to offer health coverage, gives employers more breathing room.

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