XChange Public Sector: SMB Health-Care Reforms Hint At New VAR Opportunity

That’s the goal, said a panel of health-care experts at Xchange Public Sector Tuesday, but the execution will be a little trickier, thanks to the complexity of the legislation and what one panelist called “a lot of misinformation.”

“When someone comes out to speak definitively about what this means from soup to nuts, I wouldn’t trust them as far as I can throw them,” said Carl Patten, public policy research and education consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield. “Even the people writing the regulations don’t know what quite what it means yet. You can expect a lot of technical fixes and regulations that have to be worked through.”

Many of the health care reform legislation’s benefits won’t be seen this year, with the exception of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, which is worth up to 35 percent of health insurance premiums paid by a qualifying small business. One of the best ways to understand how small businesses stand to benefit -- and precisely what benefits they can qualify for -- is to pay attention to the Internal Revenue Services' Website and make sure they stay informed with reliable information.

“Visit www.irs.gov and visit often for credible information and the latest information,” said Gloria Sutton, the IRS’ government liaison for North Florida. “We’re out there with information postcards, and we’re saying, here are the qualifications.”

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For many small business owners, however, the sheer volume of information and hype -- the regulations the bills will breed, Patton admitted, will number more than 75,000 pages in length -- is enough to stall the process.

“Seventy five thousand pages of regulations. Do any of us have time to look at that stuff?” asked Paul Karch, president and CEO of Gardant Global, a Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based solution provider. “We’re already working 12 to 14 hours a day. I think our philosophy of offering health insurance will stay the same. We want them to grow with us, but with the administrative burden, I need to figure out the easiest way to get through the paperwork.”

One way to do that, Karch suggested? Outsource.

“As a small business, we outsource payroll and other things. Find someone who understands this, pay them a fixed fee for a year, and call it a day,” Karch said.

Patton, Sutton and Karch all agreed that the complexity of managing new health-care regulations -- from claims processing to compliance -- would create new opportunities for solution providers, especially as electronic medical records and Health Information Exchanges (HIE) become mission-critical priorities for the industry.

Fraud and abuse prevention, Patton said, would require organizations to lean on their IT providers for the most secure and efficient systems, not least because thanks to the legislation, as panel moderator and CompTIA Public Policy Manager Lamar Whitman pointed out, the market will adjust by 2014 to include 30 million new insured people.

“There’s a lot of opportunity in the health insurance bill. That, along with the changes and the fact that you have more insured folks in the system, there’ll be a lot of moving parts,” Patten said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for the right folks.”