Diving Deep Into …PPACA

Author’s note: This blog post is part of an ongoing series called “Diving Deep Into …” Each post explores a topic beyond just the surface, looking at the trending articles, the people engaged with it and the media outlets covering it. To assemble the information we use SocialEars HR (social content marketing software). Past topics include HR big data, HR technology, employee engagement and workplace wellness. Today we continue with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also often referred to as Obamacare. 

No matter what you call it, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PPACA or Obamacare, the federal health care reform law has wide-ranging and powerful implications for employers, employees, insurers, employee benefit brokers and consultants and employee benefit vendors. 

Some parts of the act are already in effect, but the most disruptive changes are still to come. There is significant debate and discussion about issues related to PPACA, especially whether companies with 50 or more full-time employers should offer medical coverage or elect not to and pay a penalty under PPACA.

Read on to learn about the PPACA-related news that has resonated among HR social influencers, as well as about the influencers authoring and sharing content about PPACA, and the media outlets covering the topic. The information and graphics were assembled using SocialEars HR (social content marketing software for the human resources and employee benefits marketplace). 

The Content

Below are some of the most-shared articles related to PPACA, and their main points.

1. Play or Pay With Obamacare? 7 Reasons Why Pay is Not the Easy Answer, TLNT, by Thomas Mangan of United Benefits Advisors 

Main point(s): Employers with 50 or more full-time employees need to decide whether to offer medical coverage or pay a penalty under PPACA. Many are considering the “pay” option, but there are issues to consider when making that choice, including: lost tax advantages; reporting burdens remain; recruitment and retention challenges; counting employees can be complex (business that think they are under the employee requirement should make certain); there are options to reduce the cost of coverage; employees may demand additional compensation for picking up healthcare costs; and carriers will address plan designs, so plan design criteria won’t likely be a burden on many employers.

2. Boobs and Babes in the Workplace, Blogging4Jobs, by Mike Haberman 

Main point(s): Some HR pros, especially those in smaller companies, might not know that an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act was included in PPACA that requires that nursing mothers be provided break time and space in order to express breast milk as needed. The law does exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees if providing the time or space would impose an “undue hardship,” defined as “causing the employer significant difficulty or expense”; however, for those who plan to use the exemption, it would be a good idea to have significant documentation on “how or why it is an undue hardship.”

3. Just Give Me the Cash, Compensation Café, by E. James (Jim) Brennan 

Main point(s): W-2s in 2013 include the cost of employee health care coverage as a result of PPACA, and many employees, especially those who received coverage they didn’t use, will prefer that those dollars be deposited in their pockets.

4. Regulating Wellness, SHRM.org, by Joanne Sammer

Main point(s): A key part of PPACA is its emphasis on preventive care and wellness. PPACA regulations would bring together and expand on existing regulations, giving employers more guidance as wellness programs expand and become more widespread.

5. 50% of Staffing Company Owners Surveyed Say They Expect Revenues to Rise Because of Obamacare, Staffing Talk, by David Gee 

Main point(s): In a survey, 50 percent of staffing company owners say they expect their revenue to increase as a result of Obamacare, while just 7.8 percent expect it to decrease. Also, 20.7 percent they have decided to participate in PPACA, 12.1 percent have decided not to and instead pay the penalty, with 63.8 percent undecided.

6. More Employees Covered by Self-Insured Health Plans, SHRM, by Stephen Miller

Main point(s): The percentage of U.S. workers in private-sector self-insured health plans is increasing, and following the passage and implementation of PPACA, there is speculation that more smaller employers will opt for self-insurance as a way of controlling expected health coverage cost increases.

7. Prepare for PPACA’s Transitional Reinsurance Fee, SHRM, by Chadron J. Patton

Main point(s): PPACA’s “transitional reinsurance program,” designed to help stabilize premiums in the individual health insurance market for those with pre-existing conditions, will result in another significant fee that sponsors of group health plans must now prepare to calculate and pay.

The People

- Dal Watson: Based in Texas, is an independent broker/agent and a health care reform adviser. 

- Jennifer Benz: Jennifer is the chief strategist and founder of Benz Communications, and specializes in employee benefits, health care and strategic HR communication. She has a popular blog that covers health- and benefits-related topics.

- Dwane Lay: Dwane is the head of HR process design at Dovetail Software and also is a writer at the Lean HR Blog. He wrote a popular post, “HR 101 for StartUps,” http://leanhrblog.com/hr-101-for-startups/ that mentioned PPACA changed the health insurance landscape significantly for both employees and employers, the latter of which faces the burden of compliance.

- Dave Ryan: Dave is the director of HR for Mel-O-Cream Donuts International and also has a popular blog, the HR Official.

Thomas Mangan: The CEO of United Benefit Advisors.  Mangan is an 20-year veteran in the employee benefits field. A recognized leader in his field, Mangan was voted as one of the top-10 most influential people in the healthcare industry by Employee Benefits News. Visit his blog, Insights into Healthcare and Employee Benefits

- Fran Melmed: Fran is an HR consultant specializing in workplace wellness and healthcare consumerism.

- Robin Schooling: Robin is a senior HR leader and blogs at HR Schoolhouse.

What you can do with this information:

• Reach out to them with targeted PR
• Build your network
• Develop valuable relationships/partnerships

The Media Outlets

The media outlets covering PPACA-related news include:

- LifeHealthPro.com
- National Underwriter: Life & Health
- HealthCare Consumerism Solutions
- Employee Benefit Adviser
- Employee Benefit News USA
- Senior Market Advisor
- Insurance & Financial Advisor — Virginia Edition
- BenefitsPro.com
- Insurance Newscast
- HealthLeaders
- Total Compensation & Benefits Update (SHRM)
- PEO Insider
- HR News (SHRM)
- HR Magazine (SHRM)
- InsuranceNewsNet

What you can do with this information:
• Traditional PR and media relations activities


As many of the more controversial aspects of PPACA are still to go into effect, health care reform promises to remain a much-talked-about and much-written-about topic, at minimum, for the rest of 2013 and into 2014.

Post written by HRmarketer / SocialEars HR team member Eric Anderson.

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