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Local HR officials say Obamacare won’t make big difference

By Bryan Richardson

Perhaps Obamacare won’t cause much of a fuss, after all.

At least not locally.

Some local HR directors say they aren’t expecting many changes as elements of the Affordable Care Act come to fruition.

The Health Insurance Marketplace, an agency created by the legislation, opens up to the public Oct. 1, with coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014.

Mary Butler, HR director of the McCall Pattern Co.’s Manhattan office, said it probably wouldn’t make much difference to the company. McCall has 154 employees here, all of them full-time with the ability to obtain affordable health coverage through the company.

“We’re not going to send anybody to the exchange unless they have a reason to think they can get a better deal,” Butler said.

What Butler and other HR directors are legally required to do is give a written notice explaining the Health Insurance Marketplace to employees on or prior to Oct. 1.

The handout includes information about coverage provided by the employer and whether it’s adequate.

Companies with at least 50 full-time employees have to provide a certain level of health insurance to avoid penalties, starting in 2015.

The penalties occur if a company’s insurance doesn’t cover at least 60 percent of health care expenses or an employee must pay more than 9.5 percent of his or her family income to pay for the coverage.

Bob Griffith, chief financial officer of GTM Sportswear, said the company is already in compliance with the Affordable Care Act through previous modifications of policy.

Griffith said the company’s 950 employees have the ability to get affordable health insurance through the company.

“I don’t think the company itself needed that legislation, because we were already on that path,” he said.

Griffith said the marketplace “dovetails perfectly” into when the company starts the enrollment process and when the coverage begins renewals.

Kansas State University HR officials said the rates from the exchanges don’t affect the health insurance rates offered to the school’s eligible employees, because their rates are set by the state.

The state already has announced 2014 premium rates.

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