Decision Time For Obamacare

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

Whether you like it or not, everyone will be impacted by the Affordable Care Act. The next deadline is October 1st. That's when the federal Healthcare Exchange or "marketplace" as it's called should be up and running. It will provide everyone more options for coverage. It also means more requirements for businesses that are struggling to keep up with the implementation of the law.

"It's a little bit overwhelming," said Phyllis Riley, the Membership Director at the University Club."With so many rules to follow, and particularly over here at the University Club where we have a wide range of different types of employees... [we] have a lot to think about as these new regulations come out."

The University Club has about 200 employees. That includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, experienced and even new workers. They have cooks, administrators, and life-guards so it's hard to pick the right plan for everyone.

"Do I want all these bells and whistles? What can I afford. How am I going to pay for it, what sort of credits can I get back from the government and if I do the wrong thing, what sort of penalties or fines will I pay? It is daunting," said Riley.

One thing business leaders who attended Wednesday morning's seminar learned, is just how uniquely the law will impact them, their employees, and their industries. It's definitely not one size fits all.

"There's not a cookie cutter answer to healthcare reform for small employers. What works for one industry and one employer isn't really going to work for another one," said Michael James, a Senior Attorney with Fraser Trebilcock.

"I don't think that anyone can just take the status quo," said Don McAanelly, a CPA who works at Rehmann.

The Affordable Care Act doesn't just apply to medical coverage benefits, it also impacts dental, vision, and more.

"The biggest take away for small employers is just, you need to be prepared, even though we are a month and a half out there, there is still time to put a plan together so that you are ready for October 1 and more importantly so that you are ready for the changes that are going to continue to happen," said James.

"Like any change process that you go through, there's going to be some bumps in the road, and we as a society, we as a community, we're going to have to deal with those whether your an individual, an employer or the government," said James.

The October deadline may not be very smooth, but experts don't think it will be Armageddon. They say most employers who provide coverage will adapt their plans and continue those benefits. Experts also don't think some companies will suddenly switch to an all part-time work force.

Perhaps more important are the decisions employees need to make.

"Some employees may find that the employer coverage is unaffordable for them, and it might be cheaper for them to go through an exchange and receive a subsidy," said Beth Latchana a Fraser Trebilcock shareholder.

Folks with a household income between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty level would likely qualify for a government subsidy on the exchange, and could actually lower their costs by switching. To find out if you would benefit by switching follow the link below.

One thing the experts agree, now is the time to come up with a strategy. Everyone should do there best to learn and make a game plan on how they will adapt as elements of the Affordable Care Act are continually implemented.

Employees can expect more information from their employer about their options around the October 1st deadline.

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