Employers attend open forum on health care reform in Hattiesburg - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Employers attend open forum on health care reform in Hattiesburg

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act are now in effect requiring employers and insurers to comply to new regulations, whether they are ready or not.

Tuesday morning, BancorpSouth Insurance Services invited business leaders, from all over the state to the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg to learn about the changes, and what how best to be in compliance with the law.

Many took notes, and listened closely. A room full of business leaders deciphered through the copious requirements of the new affordable care law.

"Health Care Reform has been on everybody's radar, " said Vice President of Client Compliance for BancorpSouth Insurance Services, Andy Impastato.

Impastato, says each year BancorpSouth invites its clients to a Q&A session regarding insurance, but with provisions of this major overhaul phasing in, this year there was a sense of urgency.

"A lot of our customers have questions that we've wanted to answer for them," said Impastato.

Many questions  revolved around new provisions.

"In August there was the expansion of women's preventative care , summary benefits of coverage, that was a September requirement," said Impastato.

Impastato described a long list of other existing requirements like medical loss ratio and patient protections. He  explained a future requirement only months away.

"W-2 reporting will be a pretty big deal come January 1, 2013, " said Impastato.

Next year will bring more regulations business leaders are expected to heed. Human Resource and Benefits Director of Jones Companies Bill Hurley says these changes aren't easy.

"When the government starts giving you the rules and regulations of how you are able to compete in the business, it takes away some of the flexibility of what you able to do and what you are not able to do. I think that is the biggest challenge," said Hurley.

Hurley considers Jones Companies to be a small business as it employs roughly 400 people, and according to Senior Attorney Aaron Sisk, small businesses are prime candidates for Health Insurance Exchanges - marketplaces for major medical insurance. But that's a route Hurley prefers to avoid.

"Hopefully, we will be able to get all the employees on our plan and maybe they won't have to go to an exchange," said Hurley.

Hurley says the open forum helped him understand the new law, but that doesn't mean he supports all of it.

"I would like to see it repealed or at least certain options or portions of it, " said Hurley.

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