With the new health care mandate being delayed until 2014, what do you recommend small businesses like mine to do to prepare for new laws?
Now is a good time to begin preparing for the implementation of the health care mandate. The health care employer mandate is extended to 2015 when health insurance coverage will be required. The MNsure and Healthcare.gov websites will provide all the information you need. But be alert that the laws may evolve over the coming year.
Currently employers with more than 50 full-time employees will have to provide insurance or pay a fine. Businesses with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees can use the Small Business Health Options Program to offer coverage to employees. If a business has fewer than 25 full-time employees making an average of $50,000 per year or less, it may qualify for a small business health care credit.
Once you are familiar with the pending laws, you ought to begin thinking strategically about how you want to proceed in the management of your business. The best interests of the firm have to be balanced with the best interests of your employees. News stories have pointed out that employers are not hiring or maintaining full-time employees. Rather they are hiring on a part-time basis to avoid paying for the mandated coverage. Understand the consequences of such decisions.
If that direction is necessary for the survival of the firm, make sure that employees understand why you are choosing that option. Be transparent in defining the dilemma you are facing. Also, provide employees with information on how the health insurance exchanges will benefit them. Hopefully the support systems outlined in the government websites will be sufficient to allow you to make a decision.
About the author
Jack Militello, Ph.D., professor and director, Health Care UST MBA, Management Department, University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business