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Does Your Company Qualify

small_business_health_care_tax_credit_scenarios

3_simple_steps small biz tax credit

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Small Business Tax Credit

It’s been a while since I have done anything on the blog, but I’m back and we finally have some, not much but some clarification on health care reform.  I thought it best to start with something many employers might be interested in.  The Small Business Tax Credit, what is this magical tax credit you ask.  I’m glad you did.  Here is what the IRS is saying:  Feel free to skip to video at bottom to save time.

1. Which employers are eligible for the small employer health care tax credit?

A. Small employers that provide health care coverage to their employees and that meet certain requirements (“qualified employers”) generally are eligible for a federal income tax credit for health insurance premiums they pay for certain employees. In order to be a qualified employer, (1) the employer must have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees (“FTEs”) for the tax year, (2) the average annual wages of its employees for the year must be less than $50,000 per FTE, and (3) the employer must pay the premiums under a “qualifying arrangement” described in Q/A-3.  See Q/A-10 through 16 for further information on calculating FTEs and average annual wages and see Q/A-24 for information on transition relief for tax years beginning in 2010 with respect to the requirements for a qualifying arrangement.

2. Can a tax-exempt organization be a qualified employer?

A. Yes. The same definition of qualified employer applies to an organization described in Code section 501(c) that is exempt from tax under Code section 501(a). However, special rules apply in calculating the credit for a tax-exempt qualified employer. An employer that is an agency or instrumentality of the federal government, or of a State, local or Indian tribal government, is not a qualified employer unless it is an organization described in Code section 501(c) that is exempt from tax under Code section 501(a). See Q/A-6.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85i1kzIG57k

I’m sure that answered everyone’s questions, right?  If not, I have a simple form that any employer may complete to find out if they qualify.  I will post it shortly.

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Ding Dong The Wicked Witch is Dead

Now I no longer have to explain why I don’t sell Unicare. Check out this article. http://shar.es/adiYv

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He Said She Said

On the eve of a Senate Finance Committee vote to approve a bill, insurers have decided to finally speak up.  AHIP (American Health Insurance Plans, an association representing many insurance carriers) has released a report warning of new and higher costs for consumers, upwards of $1700 a year more for families with insurance.  Linda Douglass, spokeswoman for the Office of Health Reform says “This is a self-serving analysis from the insurance industry, one of the major opponents of health insurance reform,” she said. “It comes on the eve of a vote that will reduce the industry’s profits. It is hard to take it seriously.” 

AHIP has taken a stand and won’t budge.  I happen to agree with AHIP, I also think it is a bit self serving, but I think each group ends up with self serving statistics, much like town hall meetings ended up with self serving supporters and detractors.  Of course it has some self serving aspects. 

So what does all this mean?  I have no doubt that the Senate Finance Committees plan will add major costs to an already expensive market, I believe that the CBO is way off and I also believe that the plan will still change drastically before it will ever be approved (and not for the better.)  Health Reform in its current stage will cost you more, I wish I could point to the insurers and call them evil, but I can’t.  I don’t represent a single one, I represent those who buy coverage, so I am not defending the insurers, but I can guarantee that they are not making whirlwind profits.  Take a look at the statistics for insurers versus other companies at http://www.lockergnome.com/swordofdestiny/2009/08/13/are-these-evil-for-profit-health-insurance-companies-really-so-evil/.  Now make insurers cover all the pre-existing conditions and what will the profits look like. 

I would like to see more affordable coverage from insurers in the near future, but don’t believe we are anywhere near the right track.

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PopTart Reform, oh tort

Tort Reform, the question most people are asking or not asking because their afraid to admit that they don’t know.  Well don’t be, I had to dig a bit to wrap my head around it.  To start lets look at dictionary.com.  Tort reform – noun change or alteration of laws imposing civil liability for torts especially to limit liability for punitive damages.  Damn, what’s a tort now?  tort – noun a wrongful act, not including a breach of contract or trust, that results in injury to another person, property, reputation, or the like, and for which the injured party is entitled to compensation.  Glad we’re all clear on that.  Some one call my lawyer, I need help.  Just kidding, I get it, let’s simplify it, the Texas Hammer will have less to do if there is tort reform, meaning that it could limit  what someone could sue their doctor for, basically.  I’m kind of kidding again, don’t come after me Texas Hammer.  Tort Reform isn’t really that simple, it has supporters and detractors, both who have some valid points.  Supporters say that it will save money in health care by preventing frivolous lawsuits, other say it’s a moot point, that it’s only a small part of the cost, according to Tom Baker, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, it might be about 1.5% of health care cost.  Others also state that because of fear of lawsuits that doctors and hospitals spend $50 to $60 billion a year on “defensive medicine” but there is not a good study to prove that.  Thanks Tom baker.

Personally I like it when my doctor takes a little more time and caution, I don’t want the doc to miss anything.  Then again I can’t imagine suing my doctor, unless the doc cut off the wrong arm, then we need to have a discussion.  So what will become of tort reform and health care reform (another article for another time about how health care and insurance are separate issues?)  I’m not sure, it could be there, the republicans like tort reform with the theory that they are more business, while the democrats don’t want to discuss it much based on the theory that they are not into big business.  By the way, don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just saying what everyone else is saying about the donkeys and elephants in the room.  Personally I’m not sure that tort reform will do a lot to save money, but who knows, I do think that our doctors pay to much for there insurance, but as in my industry, maybe we can weed out those doctors more like Dr.Nick Riviera from the Simpson’s much as we could stand to weed out the basic insurance agent who does nothing but sell insurance and go away.  Is it even possible to weed out the quacks.  Tell your friends to call me and we’ll weed out a few ourselves (shameless plug, but seriously, I can help, another plug.)

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So What Is An Insurance Cooperative?

Ahhh, the insurance coop, good times or not. Many people want to know what an insurance coop is and if it will be good for small businesses. Wikipedia defines a coop as “is a cooperative entity that has the goal of providing health insurance and is also owned by the people that the organization insures. It is a form of mutual insurance.”  That helped, right?  A cooperative is defined by dictionary.com as “working or acting together willingly for a common purpose or benefit.”  So by theory an insurance coop brings small companies together for more bargaining power and options or to act like one big company.

Insurance coops are not new and new legislation, in my opinion, won’t do much to help small businesses. Meaning, coops are a failure already. I am currently trying to help a small restraunt  with about 10 employees find a suitable opportunity for health insurance. So with quotes on the table, the rates weren’t crazy, but questionable and there is always a concern on staff, like high turnover.  As a good broker we looked at more than just traditional options, meaning we looked at a management entity for managers only, making the group more like 2 employees and then as new restaurants open, each manager is added.  We also explored coops, this was not my first foray into the coop world and I’m certain not the last.  Unfortunately as in the past, it was a complete failure.  Amazingly every time we look into coops, the rates are dramatically higher.  How can that be?  I’m not sure, but I have opinions.  I always have opinions.

So what will coops do?  Nothing in my opinion.  I think we are still barking up the wrong tree, neither a public option or coops will solve this issue, we need real discussion about all aspects of health care and insurance for reform, not little tidbits or a public option.  We need to find cost control across the board.  Maybe we can discuss that soon.

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About Time

Wow, what an address to us all.  After months of confusion and frustration by many including myself (look at the previous post about having enough.)  I stick by those comments at the time based on my own confusion reading through some of what I read.  There was nothing in the previous bill by the President that sounded much like what was spoken tonight.  Tonight universal truths were said, what myself and other’s have long said.  Insurance and health care are broken and we must have reform.

Cost of insurance is out of control, fear of pre-existing conditions must not exist any longer, fear of coverage being dropped or held up based on an insurer having to approve something is rediculous and has led to more pain, heartache and often death.  I am not sure about a public option, but tonight was the best I have heard.  With that said there many things that must be done now.  First and foremost is no more bipartisan BS based on fear tactics and misinformation, the bill must be understandable and use common sense (even if it’s not always common.) 

Today was the day I hoped for when I thought about Obama, while I am a Republican and did not vote for Obama I had hope for change that was needed.  Even though my career is based on insurance, I hoped for more affordable, comprehensive coverage for all.  Tonight I heard just that.  My challenge to all our elected leaders is to do just that, including President Obama living up to what he said.  I am excited about a great future. 

My challenge to those reading this is to continue to write to your leaders and let them know what you want, make sure that they listen by being consistent and support your beliefs for a better health care system for all Americans.

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I’ve had it, this has gotten out of control

Sorry to my liberal friends, but I am done with all this nonsense.  The president, the most powerful man in the world has gone to far, the democrats have gone to far.  I’m not here to bash the democrats, but come on, is anyone in Washington telling the truth, working for their constituents or doing anything for the best of our great country?  First, the president is lying to us.  My last post mentioned that you will lose the right to get new private health insurance if this legislation passes, even thought the president said in his press conference that nothing will change except for a new option, that you can keep your coverage.  No, you lied through your teeth to us.   I can also point out that Obama is leading us down his slippery slope of lies from health care to the stimulus (look at all the jobs created,what jobs you ask.)  I am running onto other things that are not necessary here, but I made a joke that feels true to a friend at the Ft. Worth Business Press over lunch today about the top 100 private businesses and top 25 public businesses issue coming out soon and had to laugh that next year the issue will have to be flipped.  Seriously, I need to move on woth this post.

Next you send a 1018 page legislation and really expect us to say cool.  Come on, we are learning that our elected officials won’t read that much.  That’s a whole other topic, but to sum it up, if any of my elected officials vote for anything they have not read, then I demand they leave Washington immediately.  There job is to understand what is in front of them, even if it needs two extra lawyers to understand it.  This is too complicated, President Reagan is rolling over and over and over.  Our founding fathers must be choking, come on.

To continue with great leaders from our past, would they believe that we are staring down the barrel of rationalized medicine.  Are you ready to tell your parents, sorry, you can’t have that test unless you pay cash because the president doesn’t think you life is valuable enough.  I don’t.  We have the greatest health care opportunities in the world and we want to take them away.  No, let’s address real issues and look for fixes in other ways.  I never represent insurance companies, not my job, but I don’t want to live in a world with out them.  I mentioned before that I am working on my own solution. I will post it as soon as I get it below 3 pages, did you think I would cross 1000 pages?

Stand up and tell the world your thoughts.  People are visiting this site in droves and I want them to hear your opinions as well as mine.  So leave some feedback.

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Page 16 controversy

Below is all of page 16 of Americas Affordable Health Choices Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare.  The debate is whether or not you will be able to buy health coverage on or after the first effective date of coverage the same year the legislation passes.  Holy snikeys, I just read that you must go into the public option if you don’t have insurance as the day this legislation passes.  Ok folks, read below, it’s there.  Thanks to a little research, this is right on.  I would have hid it much deeper into the bill, but hey, it turns out Obama is one big mistake and thank God for this one.  Hey who doesn’t want rationalized care with no choice otherwise?  Ooooh, I don’t.  Seriously.

http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/publications/AAHCA-BillText-071409.pdf

16

1 SEC. 102. PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT
2 COVERAGE.

3 (a) GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COV4
ERAGE DEFINED.—Subject to the succeeding provisions of
5 this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable cov6
erage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health
7 insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance
8 coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the
9 first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:
10 (1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT.—
11 (A) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in
12 this paragraph, the individual health insurance
13 issuer offering such coverage does not enroll
14 any individual in such coverage if the first ef15
fective date of coverage is on or after the first
16 day of Y1.
17 (B) DEPENDENT COVERAGE PER18
MITTED.—Subparagraph (A) shall not affect
19 the subsequent enrollment of a dependent of an
20 individual who is covered as of such first day.
21 (2) LIMITATION ON CHANGES IN TERMS OR
22 CONDITIONS.—Subject to paragraph (3) and except
23 as required by law, the issuer does not change any
24 of its terms or conditions, including benefits and
25 cost-sharing, from those in effect as of the day be26
fore the first day of Y1.

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ObamaCare

It has been a while since I last updated this blog and I have been hearing lots of questions about the possibility of an overhaul of our nations health care system and health insurance too.  As of right now, I am collecting more data and will be glad to post on what I am coming across soon.  As for now I am focusing on a few things that I feel are important for us all such as rationing of health care, the goverment making decisions for my family and choosing what tests I need or not, total loss of my rights as an American.  I could also say a few things about my career, but I am not worried about a job.  I will always land feet first.  I am concerned, scratch that, scared of my loss of rights in America and drastic unnecessary changes to the single greatest health care system in the world. 

I agree that there are many things in health care that need to be addressed and that insurance, pharmaceuticals and other factors need to be evaluated to make positive steps forward.  I also agree that insurance is unaffordable currently.  With that said, I am working on a thourough letter to our leaders and will post what I think are great first steps to make positive changes. 

If you have questions or opinions you would like to leave here, please let me know.   I am interested in your thoughts, so don’t wait, let me know what you think.

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