The Affordable Care Act and Small Business
At times, it seems like it’s been forever since the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—more commonly known as Obamacare—was signed into law; the president’s flagship legislation raised a few eyebrows when it was first announced, and has been embattled ever since. As it stands, the Affordable Care Act is being implemented in phases, so we may not feel its full effects until as late as 2020 when the very last parts of the bill are put into action. This in mind, the healthcare world is about to take a big leap coming October 1st, when the first major stages of the act go into effect and the healthcare market created for it will open its doors.
If you’re a small business owner the prospect of such a big change can seem daunting at first, so here’s a quick refresher on how this implementation phase will affect you:
- If your business has fewer than 50 employees, weigh your options. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t directly affect businesses with under 50 full-time employees, which constitute 96% of all small businesses in the U.S. (http://buswk.co/ZAWlZ4) Of those businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, only around 4% of them don’t currently offer health insurance, making the business impact—on the surface—minimal. Regardless of size, you will have to take steps, but the mandatory insurance isn’t one of them for a smaller company.
- If your employees aren’t insured, they’ll need to be. While not a direct blow to your company’s finances, employee retention and satisfaction is going to come into play in a big way once 2014 hits and health insurance becomes mandatory. You’ll be faced with a decision—look into a company-wide healthcare plan in an attempt to keep your best talent and draw more employees, or provide information on the subsidized coverage plans (and potentially hike wages to help meet those premiums for your employees). There are benefits on both sides, and any small business owner will have to consider their options carefully.
- You must notify your employees of the ACA marketplace. Regardless of whether you’ll be providing coverage or not, all small business owners are required to notify their employees of the existence of the Affordable Care Act marketplace that will be opening up. Refusing to notify employees of the fact that this law is now being phased into place just isn’t an available route, and you’ll have to address where your business stands on the issue. The department of labor has released a very useful bit of information on how it recommends going about this announcement, (http://1.usa.gov/10qVb0v) alongside providing sample notices for employers with plans (http://1.usa.gov/Yv59jM) and without plans (http://1.usa.gov/13AKgoe).
Regardless of your opinion on the act itself, the implementation is going to always seem harder when it’s first coming up than it actually ends up being in the long run. Make sure you’re informed and aware of your options so you can make the right choice for your business when the time comes for a mandatory decision.
Written By: Financial Social Media