Whether you have employees or just go at it alone, you've probably been wondering how the U.S. Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) might affect your business or your own healthcare plan. And to add to the confusion the government doesn't seem to have a clear timeline to roll out these requirements for business owners (for instance, the employer mandate was recently been push back one year). With open enrollment set to begin this October, here are the options you have as an employer: 1. You can do nothing. If you have fewer than 50 "full-time" employees or the equivalent, you are not required to provide healthcare coverage. Keep in mind that full-time employees are considered those who work at least 30 hours per week, and the law takes into account the hours worked by part-timer employees toward an employer's number of full-time-equivalent workers. For example, two "half-time" employees working 15 hours per week would equal one full-time worker.
In this option, the employees will be responsible for obtaining their own insurance, and they may be eligible for government premium subsides if they choose a plan from one of the individual exchanges.
As a business owner, you might not be required to offer insurance to your employees, but remember that you are still required to have coverage for yourself and your family. You can either purchase coverage from the exchange, from outside the exchange or from a spouse's employer.
2. You can offer employees assistance in finding healthcare coverage. Since you're going to be doing some research on your own anyway (especailly since it can vary from state to state), you will have a good idea of what's out there. You can offer that information to your employees and help guide them in to the answers they need. You could also find an insurance agent or broker who will work with them. Not only is this a good-will gesture, but it will also make your employees eligible for subsidies if they choose a healthcare coverage from one of the exchanges.
3. You can offer a healthcare plan from one of the exchanges. If you already offer healthcare coverage, or you would like to offer it in the future, you can choose a single coverage plan from the small-business exchange within your state. You can choose to do this through a broker or even on your own. While the coverage plan might be less expensive than the employees purchasing it on their own, employees will not be eligible for a government subsidy, so be sure to take this into account.
4. You can purchase insurance from an outside source. This really isn't a change to what you are able to do now. However, purchasing insurance from outside one of the exchanges will make you ineligible for a tax credit.
There are many choices out there and it is important to weigh the choices and speak to your insurance and tax professionals before making any descision about healthcare coverage for you or your business. Still have questions about U.S. Affordable Care Act? EquestrianProfessional.com members can listen to the Horse Business Hotline replay where we answered questions on how these changes will pertain to horse business owners.
About the author
Chad Mendell is the co-editor of EquestrianProfessional.com and the Equestrian Social Media Bootcamp with Elisabeth McMillan. He is the former executive editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. Additionally, He and his wife own and operate a 34-stall boarding stable near Lexington, KY, where he trains, sells and shows his own reining horses.
About Equestrian Professional.com
Equestrian Professional.com provides horse business education, resources, and support to horse professionals around the globe. The site offers monthly horse business webinars and a wide array of programs, tools, and information to help horse trainers, riding instructors, breeders, stable operators and professional riders run more profitable businesses and build successful equestrian careers.