The Affordable Healthcare Act recently upheld by the Supreme Court will affect employer-based health insurance locally over the next 24 months, with the most notable affects occurring at the small-business level.
By 2014, every company with a workforce of 50 or more full-time equivalent employees will be required to offer affordable health insurance to its employees. At that time, Iowa and most other states are expected to have an insurance exchange setup whereby individuals can shop for their health insurance and find a policy tailored to them through a certified Internet website.
Businesses with more than 50 employees, like Precision Optical Group in Creston, will also have to determine whether dropping health insurance and paying an annual fine to the federal government of at least $2,000 for each employee is the best way to go.
Matt Somers, co-owner of Precision Optical, said his company is currently insured through Bernie Lowe and Associates of Ankeny. Somers said he has about 70 employees on the company's health insurance plan and, at this point, sees no reason why he would pay the annual fine of at least $2,000.
"We want to supply our employees with the best possible insurance covera ge," Somers said, "but coverage is getting to the point where it's really getting expensive. We are in wait-and-see mode right now until after the election. We will see how this all plays out. But, no doubt, it will be a major decision for our company in the future."
Under the new health-care law, small businesses have the most incentive to provide insurance to their employees as tax credits are available to businesses with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees with average annual wages of less than $50,000 if they contribute to their employees' health insurance premiums.
The new health-care law should enable small businesses to be more competitive in recruiting talented workers. Right now, good employees tend to gravitate toward businesses that offer health coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, through state and federal exchanges, employees will be able to explore their insurance options in the exchanges, which will offer a variety of coverages.
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