The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a monster—not only in terms of its sheer size, but also for the mythical fear and panic it has provoked. I personally think it’s a good description… like any good mythical monster, very few can say they’ve actually seen it, but many have heard about it and many are terrified by the stories they’ve heard. Which brings me to my point – who has actually read the text of the bill and all of the regulatory directives that have been finalized, proposed, or just noticed? I’d say we aren’t talking about a big number. However, even though so few have taken the time to really study it, so many are self-proclaimed experts that know for sure all of the ramifications. Well, as exciting as the Nostradamus-esque proclamations are, they fail in the light of reality.
I’m not writing today to praise the bill as the greatest piece of legislative mastery to ever exist. I’m writing to put the subject at the forefront and to give you an idea of what you need to be thinking about for your small business. Many small business owners have heard such horror stories that they have just buried their heads in the sand. The law and the rules are complex, that’s true. And, yes, there’s a helluva lot of bad advice out there. In the next year, bets are that there will be a whole new wave of “consultants” putting their signs out as “experts on ObamaCare.” Many will be the same experts from the foreclosure crisis (and that worked out well…). Many small business will need the advice and consultation of an attorney when the time comes, but by starting to address the real effects on your business now will save headaches later. To get you started, here’s 5 things I thought you should know to get you started:
- You aren’t required to provide coverage to your employees. Period. Some large corporations (greater than 50 employees) that do not provide coverage will have to pay an assessment of $2,000 per employee over 30 employees.
- It may actually be financially beneficial for you to provide coverage! Yes, beginning in 2014, small employers may find themselves eligible for enhanced tax credits – up to 50% of what they paid in employee premiums! Check out this IRS webpage for the details.
- Beginning October 2013 (i.e. just a short 6 months from now), you’ll be able to go online and check out coverage options in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). This will be a competitive marketplace of private insurance companies. Big Brother will not be participating.
- You can shop through a broker or, better yet, you can shop on your own! The SHOP marketplace will provide the cost and coverage information in a simplified standard format that will allow you to compare plans right there. One of the goals of the program is to empower you to choose the plan that fits your business.
- Get your head out of the sand! Stop ignoring ObamaCare and start looking at the facts. You need to look past the myths and look at the facts. As the rules finalize and implementation goes into effect, you may find opportunities for your business. At the very least, you need to be prepared. Know what your goals are and know what you’d like to achieve.
So, there you go. Now you’ve got at least a few starter-facts to get you going. And, if you’re feeling overwhelmed – talk to someone. Find an attorney that can walk you through the law, the rules, and the potential effects and opportunities it presents for your business. Talk to your accountant about potential tax opportunities. Talk to you broker about your insurance options. But, please, please, don’t talk to a friend of a friend of your neighbor who knows everything about everything. He doesn’t. He knows some good monster stories… that’s all.