Health Care Reform Update

By Kathleen Pohlid Founder and Managing Member, Pohlid, PLLC | October 07, 2012

On June 28, the Supreme Court settled the debate looming over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, upholding the individual mandate scheduled to go into effect in 2014. Since enacted on March 23, 2010, the Act continues to phase-in significant reforms many of which impose requirements affecting employers. Although legislative attempts and political discussions continue to swirl for repeal of the Act, the time-line for full implementation of the Act continues. Businesses, including those in the hospitality industry, should be in compliance with those provisions that have gone into effect and ready for those remaining to be phased-in.

The Affordable Care Act has initiated comprehensive reforms of private and public health coverage, with many of those reforms directly affecting employers. The Act phases-in its reforms, several of which have already gone into effect. Employers in the hotel industry should be aware of those provisions and the obligations and decisions they may pose for their business. Below is a synopsis of several provisions that have already gone into effect, and those which will be implemented in the future.

Currently In Effect

a. Health Coverage for Adult Children Until Age 26. Insurers that offer dependent coverage are required to extend the availability of coverage to children of the insured until the child reaches the age of 26. This provision applies even if the child is married. However, adult children who are eligible to enroll in an employer-sponsored health plan (other than their parent’s) are not covered under this provision until 2014.

b. Prohibition of exclusions for children with pre-existing conditions. Children under the age of 19 cannot be denied health coverage for pre-existing conditions.

c. Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIP). States have the option of running a PCIP to provide new coverage options to individuals who have been uninsured for at least six months due to a pre-existing condition. For states that opt not to run a PCIP, the Secretary will establish a plan in that state. PCIPs will continue until 2014, when discrimination against pre-existing conditions will be prohibited for all individuals.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.