5 Questions Business Owners Should Be Asking About Healthcare Reform (Plus Some Answers)


Posted: September 19th, 2013

Category: How To

Confused about healthcare reform? We thought so. Here are five questions you are probably asking, along with some answers that should help you sleep better a night.

5 Questions Business Owners Should Be Asking About Healthcare Reform (Plus Some Answers)

  1. Are the healthcare reform police about to bust through my front door?No employer must offer coverage. Depending on the size of your company, different provisions apply. Fifty employees is the tipping point. For businesses with 50 or fewer employees, there is the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) that opens October 1, 2013 and is designed as an online marketplace for health insurance. You may be eligible for Small Business Health Care Tax Credits. If you have 51 or more full-time equivalent employees, you should plan on offering affordable insurance that meets minimum value, as determined by government standards, or face a penalty. You may be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility payment if at least one of your full time employees gets lower costs on their monthly premiums through the Marketplace. Confused? Consider hiring a broker who knows his or her way around the changing healthcare landscape and can guide you through some of these regulations.
  2. Should I make my part timers work fewer hours?This is not a simple yes or no answer. Employees who work 30 or more hours per week are now considered full time. If you employ 51 or more people and have part time employees who work 32 hours a week, you are going to have to either provide coverage or pay a penalty. It is up to you to decide if you want to offer your part-time employees coverage. There are a multitude of factors that will guide you. Depending on the state in which you do business, and the size of your company, how much coverage you want to offer, and the makeup of your participant population, you will have different options and requirements.
  3. Do I have to do anything right this very minute?Well, sort of. The enforcement of the Employer Mandate taxes and reporting has been delayed until 2015. However, there are a number of requirements that did not get delayed. For example, by October 1, you need to send a notice to employees. Otherwise, you don’t have to do anything, but it’s a very good idea to get smart on healthcare reform. Review and revise all plan documents.
  4. What? Does this mean my insurance rates are going up?You’re not going to like the short answer: it depends. There have been studies that show, on average, that rates will go up, but it all depends on what state you are in, the level of coverage you offer, your plan participant population. However, there will continue to be upward pressure on insurance prices in general.
  5. What’s the penalty for not having insurance?As of October 1, 2013 companies with at least one employee and $500,000 in annual revenue face up to a $100 per day fine if they fail to send out a letter notifying all employees of the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare exchanges. If your business is regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act, regardless of size, you must comply. Going forward, letters are to be distributed to any new hires within 14 days of their starting date, according to the Department of Labor. The penalty, also known as the Employer Mandate, does not go into effect until 2015.