Although there is now a good deal of uncertainty about the future of implementation of various aspects of the Affordable Care Act, one recent decision that will specifically affect small businesses is now believed to have relatively minor negative impacts on these companies.
The Obama administration recently announced that due to delays in setting up the system, the small business health insurance exchange that would operate in much the same way as the one for individuals, would not be ready to go in advance of its mandated start time of January 1, 2014. Instead, those exchanges run by the federal government would not be ready to go until the same date a year later, and likewise the requirement that states running their own marketplaces was pushed back by the same amount of time.
And while many experts immediately said that the delay would be a problem for some small business owners across the country who have to become compliant with the ACA’s mandate that companies with 50 or more employees cover their workers’ health insurance costs, advocacy groups say it’s less of a concern than many might assume, according to a report from the Washington Post. If anything, the delay will simply prevent some small businesses from registering for the exchanges, which in turn could cost those that do slightly more due to the smaller number of participants. But overall, these concerns are likely negligible for even the smallest businesses that will participate.
“It’s a little more than a minor setback,” Kevin Kuhlman, manager of legislative affairs for National Federation of Independent Business, told the newspaper. “These small business exchanges were supposed to compete on price, quality and choice, and now you’re taking away that choice element for one year. So it’s a disappointment, but it’s not the end of the world.”
John Arensmeyer, president of Small Business Majority, a lobbying organization that supports the health care law, also noted that that this year-long delay will certainly not do enough damage to small businesses’ bottom lines that it would outweigh the many benefits the ACA will provide these companies, the report said. The ways in which the healthcare law mandates that insurance rates be better regulated, and that 80 percent of premiums for these firms go directly toward care-related costs will both serve as a significant boon to companies going forward as they will necessarily restrict price increases both now and in the future.
Some experts more dubious of impact
Of course, not everyone sees this delay as being a relatively minor calamity for the Obama administration and small businesses, the report said. Republican Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, who chairs the House Small Business Committee, recently wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cautioning that the delay could cause some companies to see increases in their costs for covering health insurance premiums. Meanwhile House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said that because employees at small businesses generally lead to far higher health insurance costs for their employers or themselves, this delay may be a little harder on their personal pocketbooks if their companies cannot pick up the tab at least in part.
Small businesses generally have to deal with many financial concerns related directly to insurance premiums. Whether it’s workers’ comp insurance, liability insurance, employees’ health coverage, or other types of concerns, owners of these companies need to be prepared to pay out sizable amounts of money annually to make sure their enterprise is fully protected.