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ACA brings changes to individuals, employers

Amarillo, TX -- The Affordable Care Act is a remarkably complex and far-reaching piece of legislation that's been evolving exponentially since its inception in 2010.

Healthcare coverage will be mandatory for all Americans next year, but there are a few more immediate changes for employers in the coming weeks.  So in a seminar this afternoon (Sep. 12), attorneys and insurance professionals outlined a few coming mandates and their deadlines.

"The biggest thing for everyone to know is that on January 1 of 2014, there is an individual mandate - every single person will be required to have health insurance," explains Julie L. Hulsley, President of Insurance Professionals in Amarillo.

There are exemptions from the mandate, including financial and religious reasons.

Employers, however, will be held to stricter regulations, including notifying their employees of upcoming changes and coverage options.

"October 1 is an important date, because October 1, every single employer is required to have out a notice," says Hulsley.  "It's an exchange notice that goes out to all employees. So it doesn't matter if you offer health insurance or not; this is a notice that has to go out to everyone."

Also starting October 1st, the new health care exchanges will be taking effect.

The exchanges are essentially a set of options employers can mix and match to meet federal requirements, including opting out altogether - although that includes paying a penalty.

Another major change for employers is mandatory group coverage will now apply to any employee working a minimum of thirty hours a week, down from forty.

"With the hours to be covered under group insurance now changing to 30 hours, we're going to actually maybe see some decreases in hours, so you may see people with two part-time jobs in order to make it through."

You can find more detailed overviews from the Department of Labor, the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services at the links attached to this story.

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