Q: Should we assume it will be difficult to get group health insurance for small groups as it is now?
A: My personal opinion on the matter is that with the new rules becoming enforced, we’ll start to see a shift in how group health insurance for small groups is obtained in this country. The significant thing about the employer scenario in particular, is that the size of the penalty is much smaller than what many employers might pay in health insurance costs. The basic penalty if you don’t offer coverage at all is $166 per employee per month. With this variance, we may start to see employers opting instead of paying health insurance premiums in favor of paying the penalty. Over the long term I expect that this will likely cause a dissociating between health insurance and employment over time. Currently under the US system, you generally have to be with an employer to have health insurance or you have difficulty accessing coverage. With the new exchanges taking effect, if you want health insurance, you just go the exchange and get it, period; no under-writing, no further questions.