What The Healthcare Bill Means For Small Businesses
One of the biggest outcries in the wake of the healthcare reform bill has been the impact it will have on small businesses. After all, big corporations have the infrastructure in place to offset many of the costs, and the average individual taxpayer is poised to get better coverage and gain more control over their insurance. At first glance, small businesses fall right into the middle, seeming to carry a heavier burden than many of them can bear.
For most small businesses, the most pertinent change is that they will be counted as a "large employer" if they have more than 50 full-time employees (which may be calculated based on total employee hours worked, so that companies with a hundred part-time employees might also qualify for the designation). "Large employers" will be required to provide insurance coverage for all full-time workers or face heavy penalties.
While there are certainly other ramifications of the healthcare bill, including government reimbursements on insurance coverage and increased choices about which insurance company will provide employees with coverage, these changes aren't likely to have as much of an impact on the small business bottom line.
What to Do About the Healthcare Changes?
If you're a small business that falls near the 50 full-time employee range, it's time to start thinking about what you want for the future of your company.
- Are you planning on continuing to grow your company and your number of employees? If so, it might be time to start considering your healthcare coverage options and responsibilities, and to start keeping track of employee hours to determine where in the "large employer" scale you currently fit.
- Would you like to remain a "small business?" For some businesses, downsizing might be the best answer. If you reduce your number of employees or their hours worked, you might be able to avoid the "large employer" designation. This will prevent future growth, of course, but it might also allow you to get more out of your company in the long term.
- Is it time to contribute more to your employees? Although it might seem like a financial impossibility right now, providing your employees with health coverage is often the right thing to do. Better employee recruitment, higher rates of employee retention, and greater job satisfaction are more likely if your employees are being "taken care of" by you from both a financial and a health standpoint.
Part of any good small business plan is having long-term financial goals in mind, regardless of government healthcare requirements. Whether this means building a solid 401(k) plan for employees (and owners), or making the transition to become a publicly traded company, depends primarily on the small business and its financial advisors.
That's why, for many small business owners, the healthcare reform bill presents an ideal opportunity in business growth and development. After all, there's no better time to reevaluate your financial goals and business expectations for the future.
by: Wesley Watkis