U.S. citizens have one year to prepare for a big wave of healthcare reform policies to take effect, including changes to eligibility and public access. In the time being, Entrepreneur Magazine notes that it is vital for the American business owner to prepare for these changes by making sufficient space in their business’ financial plan. Whatever a business owner’s view of the new health insurance policies, businesses large and small will be affected by the upcoming implementation.
In a recent blog for the New York Times, Paul Krugman stated that when insurance is aimed toward some of the population rather than required for all, companies will go to great lengths to eliminate their costs and, in that, keep individuals who require healthcare attention that is not deemed necessary by their providers away from treatment.
“Modern medicine requires that people have health insurance, ” he said. “Why? Because in any given year, most people have modest medical expenses – but a minority will have expenses that ordinary families couldn’t possibly pay for out of their current income. The only way to protect against the risk of such expenses is with insurance.”
As the business is now, Krugman says, the discrepancies many insurance companies hold about alternative forms of medicine can make many treatments unaffordable even when individuals are covered by some sort of healthcare plan.
The best news for small businesses in regard to new healthcare laws is that companies with less than 50 employees are not expected to be heavily affected. Of course those businesses will be able to offer employees health insurance benefits, as the Boston Globe’s small business blogger Jason Keith suggests firms may, but the new federal laws will not require them to do so.
The importance of education
A survey done in June by The Wall Street Journal showed that only 34 percent of small business CEOs were confidently aware of where they stand in terms of a tax credit that could be awarded to help cover expenses related to offering employees insurance benefits.
In his blog, Keith pointed out a government website created to help business owners and employees alike best understand the details of the new laws. In addition to using social media to their advantage in learning these new policies (as Keith implores his readers to do), business owners seeking comprehensive answers to a multitude of reform-related issues can visit AARP’s bulletin on the matter.
Small organizations are in the business of making money, and with that comes the need to work as cost-effectively as possible. For many, new laws requiring coverage of employees can be a scary financial burden. The reality of the situation as new healthcare laws near is not dire though. More than 90 percent of companies who will be required to offer insurance by federal law in January 2014 offer their employees benefits today, according to Entrepreneur, although some may need to update plans to avoid affordability penalties.
Companies that will have to provide coverage for the first time may find Keith’s advice helpful in getting acquainted with the responsibilities of required healthcare coverage. One of the best things small business owners can do, he says, is check in with their brokers each year to go over any changes to policy or possible financial improvements that can be made.
More than anything, medium-sized business (those with more than 50 and less than 500 employees) must understand their obligations to employees come January of next year. Organizing within the community may be beneficial to business owners as well, as face-to-face meetings help clear any doubt or misunderstanding one may get from independent research.