Obamacare and How it Might Affect You as a Paralegal

The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), commonly known as Obamacare, is over 2400 pages long, and reading the law is not likely to be at the top of anyone’s to-do list. Most just want to know how the law will affect them. However, sorting through the various reports about what is going to happen once certain parts of the new law take affect can be frustrating, as at this time, everyone is just guessing, and their political affiliations seem to color those guesses. So how will Obamacare affect you as a paralegal?

Jobs and Work Hours

The ACA has the potential to affect any employees’ job. Why? Because the law requires employers who have 50 or more full-time employees to offer insurance to all employees who work 30 hours a week or more. This means that employers may choose to cut jobs and hours in order to avoid the expense of buying health insurance for workers. Employers with only a few more than 50 employees might cut just enough jobs to reduce the workforce to 49, so as not to be forced to purchase health insurance for any workers. Others may decide to cut employees hours to 29 or less, so they will not be considered full-time and the company will not have to purchase health insurance for them. All employers, however, are not cutting jobs or hours, and whether yours will depends on how they feel about the law and how they think it will affect their bottom line.

Some paralegals may find their job being converted into a client/independent contractor relationship as opposed to an employer/employee relationship. While this would mean that the client/former employer would not have to provide health insurance, it could also lead to more responsibility and flexibility in when and how you do your job, as independent contractors generally have more control over their work than do employees.

Obamacare

Obamacare and How it Might Affect You as a Paralegal

As more individuals become insured and acquire less medical bills, bankruptcy paralegals might find themselves looking for a new job. After all, less medical bills may lead to the number of individuals filing bankruptcy going down. Conversely, more business may be filing bankruptcy as the result of the increased cost of providing health insurance, and bankruptcy paralegals may find that they are busier than ever.

Paralegals who are self-employed may find that the law affects their job, as they might be making the decisions that other employers are making about cutting jobs and/or work hours in order to cut costs and save the expense of providing health insurance to employees. Fewer employees can oftentimes mean more work for the employer.

Work Duties

When new laws such as the ACA are passed, everyone who may be affected by it calls in the lawyers. In the case of the ACA, everyone will be affected and that creates a whole host of potential clients for law firms. Possible new duties for paralegals working for tax, general practice, or litigation law firms may include:

  • Helping clients sign up for the healthcare exchange
  • Explaining the requirements of the ACA to individuals and business owners
  • Helping clients select a health insurance policy
  • Calculating penalties for business or individuals who are not complying with the law
  • Assisting with litigation regarding ACA penalties
  • Drafting Insurance Exchange Notification letters for business owners
  • Assisting with litigation over the specifics of the ACA, such as the birth control mandate
  • Calculating the new Medicare Surtax for clients, estates, and trusts

Independent paralegals may find that assisting people with signing up for the appropriate exchange and navigating the website in order to view, compare, and purchase policies can be a helpful public service, as well as quite lucrative.

Health Insurance

If you did not have health insurance before, you will have it now. If your employer does not offer health insurance, you must purchase it yourself to avoid paying a yearly fine when you file your income tax returns. Your employer should have given you a notice explaining the healthcare exchanges and providing you with your plan information, if insurance is or will be offered through the company. If your company does not, and will not, offer health insurance, or you are unable to afford or do not like the policy choices offered, you will need to purchase insurance through the appropriate exchange or marketplace. To determine which exchange you should purchase your plan through, visit healthcare.gov’s Individual Health Insurance Marketplace and select your state from the drop down box. If your state has set up its own exchange, you will be directed to it. If your state does not have an exchange, you will need to purchase your plan through the federal exchange on healthcare.gov.

 

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About Shelley Riseden

Shelley M. Riseden is a freelance paralegal providing research, document preparation, and writing services to both attorneys and non-attorneys. She is an expert at conducting legal research and has a natural ability to grasp complex legal issues.Phone: 765.667.5139, E-mail: smriseden@earthlink.net or shelley@virtuallylegal.net, Skype: shelley.riseden, Yahoo: Virtually_Legal

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