From My Blog Archive: Health Care Reform Panel

by Melissa Brunner

I am notorious about saving old notes and documents related to ongoing stories. (Remember when I cleaned my desk last year?!) When the Supreme Court's ruling on the health care reform law came down today, it had me thinking back to a panel discussion the Topeka Independent Business Association invited me to moderate. It was all the way back in July of 2010. I thought you might find it interesting to read again, given today's developments.


Originally posted in July 2010:

I had the chance Tuesday to facilitate a panel discussion for the Topeka Independent Business Association. The topic was the new health insurance law. I am certainly no expert on it, so I welcomed the opportunity to learn more about it. What I learned is there's still a lot to learn - even for the experts.

On the panel were Linda Sheppard of the Kansas Insurance Dept., independent insurance agent Tom Bryon, Melissa Hungerford of the Kansas Hospital Assoc., Brad Clothier of Preferred Health Systems, and Midway Wholesale founder Ken Daniel. All agreed that the exact impact of the health care reform law remains to be seen.

Because of that, they all also agreed that the small business owners in attendance probably shouldn't make any changes just yet. Sheppard pointed out that the National Insurance Commissioners group has 14 subgroups currently working, at the direction of federal officials, to develop recommendations for implementation. By some estimates, some 250,000 pages of rules and regulations have yet to be written before the law is set to take effect in 2014.

We also talked about enforcing the law. The panelists pointed out that the penalties may add to the challenge. For example, it could be cheaper for a business to pay the fine for not offering coverage for their workers than it would to offer it. In much the same way, the penalty for an individual to not get coverage could be less expensive than paying for a policy. Which would you choose? And the tax incentives for small businesses to offer coverage? Well, some panelists said they may not really offer any incentives.

Couple all that with concerns over choice and whether doctors would close up shop, and it would be easy to say this was a session to bash on health care reform. However, the panelists also agreed that the current health care system is broken and change is needed. In the end, their message was one of caution. Let's see where the chips fall when the details are nailed down and work to clear obstacles. Implementation is five years down the road, they said, so. Lot can change.

Stay informed and research options. A few resources on the web they offered:,, and Some of these sites already have tools to plug in numbers and see how the reform could impact you, particularly for business owners.

And, as we like to say, stay tuned!


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