“The nice thing is that one of the key characteristics of my speech is that we're learning as we go—and this is an example,” said Krystopolski, president of the Sanford Health Plan, the insurance arm of the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based integrated Sanford Health system. “The rules keep changing daily, weekly and monthly—and big changes, too,” she said, so many business owners are having trouble understanding what they are required to do.
In particular, she said, employers are struggling with whether they meet the threshold of 50 full-time equivalent employees that will require them to offer health insurance. “They're still trying to figure out how to count their FTEs,” Krystopolski said.
In Wisconsin, Marty Anderson, director of consumer marketing for Security Health Plan, the health insurance arm of the Marshfield Clinic Health System, said his company was fielding telephone calls from worried plan members about the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the IRS does not have the authority to offer subsidies in states where the federal government operated the insurance exchange.
Three minutes after sending out an internal memo explaining possible repercussions of that ruling, a three-judge panel from the 4th U.S. District Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., issued an opinion concluding the opposite.
The calls didn't stop. “The first ruling shaped the story being told, and that's what's driving people to our customer call center.”
Anderson, who acknowledged his organization has done some “flying by the seat of its pants” since the exchanges got rolling, predicted there would be no short-term impact on people's coverage.
“Long term, it does create uncertainty,” he said. “But no more uncertainty as we've had though on the Affordable Care Act's journey through the lawmaking process.”
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks