Are the Affordable Care Act Changes Enough?

Recently the White House released an announcement that they would be delaying the transition to the new health care rules by as much as two years. The government hopes that this delay will slow down the number of insurance policies that are being canceled and lessen the adverse feelings many have towards the new law. Even with this delay, many are finding that their insurance companies will not renew their policies if they had already received a cancellation notice.

Some small businesses, including many fishing tackle retailers, are hurrying to renew their policies early and extend them in order to avoid the looming December deadlines. By renewing early many are finding that they will not have to make the tough decision of what health care policies they themselves need, and what they will chose for their employees, until October 2014 or in some cases October 2015 when their policies end or they are mandated to under the new healthcare reform. Each business will have to make their own decisions to renew early or go with a new government healthcare plan. Due to the number of full time and part time employees you have, your choices may differ from the business next door, so don’t count on asking your neighbor what they suggest you do.

If you have renewed your current insurance policy already, or are planning to in the next few days or weeks, ask if you will be able to roll in to a new Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant plan before your policy runs out later next year. If you are able to find a more affordable or better-structured plan under the ACA, then you should take advantage of it.

29ers and 49ers, The New Business Plan
Even though the healthcare act’s laws won’t kick in until next year or the following, depending on where your business falls on the new scale, the government has already started to measure your employee numbers and the hours they are working. Because of this, many small businesses are attempting to save money and dodge the rules by becoming what some are calling 49ers and their employees 29ers.

29ers refers to the number of hours the employees are working every week. Once an employee works thirty hours or more they are considered full-time under the new health care reform. By limiting employees to just twenty-nine hours a week, many are hoping that their business will avoid the need to offer healthcare. The healthcare reform does take this into account and will count two fifteen-hour employees as one full-time employee. This shift is being seen in many more franchise businesses, and larger stores.

In the same light, businesses that employ fifty or more full-time employees (thirty or more hours a week) are mandated to offer insurance to them or face a $2,000 per employee fine. If they employ just forty-nine employees though, that all work thirty or more hours, then they will be eligible for tax credits if they do decide to offer health insurance, but will not be mandated to. This may save them thousands a year, though it will cost their employees who are forced to pay out-of-pocket for their own healthcare as they have been if their employer doesn’t offer a plan to them.

What does this mean to small business owners and their customers?
First, small businesses need to keep up with the changes that may continue to occur daily in the next few weeks, just in time for the holiday rush. Fortunately, Congress will be taking some time off soon as well and we will not likely see any major changes over the final weeks of the year.

If you are as confused, as many other fishing tackle retailers and small business owners are as to what you are required to offer, can offer or cannot offer your employees, it is time to turn to an agent or broker who is keeping up with all of the changes and can advise you on your decisions.

Your customers may feel the pinch soon though as many companies, especially those that thrive on unskilled part-time labor, start cutting back hours and employee numbers to avoid the expense of offering healthcare to them. This may mean a decrease in expendable income for many in the coming months. Hopefully though by spring much of this is cleared up and the economy will not suffer. Only time will tell.

It is clear that Washington realizes it needs to make adjustments to the Affordable Care Act, and make it work better than it currently does for many. Since each state has set up their own way to access the SHOP program, some areas of the country are not feeling the pain of the transition, and some are. No one, no matter where you live, doesn’t have an opinion on the ACA and how it is personally or professionally affecting them and their business.

How are you dealing with the new delays and changes to the Affordable Care Act in your store? Are you still weighing your options, or have you renewed your insurance policies early to avoid making the decision of which plan you will choose for your employees? Have you started instituting a twenty-nine hour workweek or cut back your full-time employees already?

How are your customers dealing with it? Have you noticed a decrease in foot traffic in your store, and not because of the seasonal change? One benefit of the twenty-nine hour workweek for some means more time to fish.

Share your opinions with us on these new changes to the ACA on our Facebook page and in our LinkedIn group and see what your fellow fishing tackle retailers are doing to cope with these changes.