Health Care, Havoc and Confusion

HC means Health Care, Havoc and Confusion

2010 was a tumultuous year from earthquakes and oil spills to a changing political demographic in Washington. 2010 will also be remembered for many as the Year of Obamacare (depending on what side of the fence you are on!). But how much do you really know about this so-called Obamacare? And how will it affect your small business?

Let’s begin with a short quiz:

When was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA, signed into law?
  A. January 2010
  B. March 2010
  C. May 2010
  D. It was never signed.

For those of you who chose D, you are wrong. While different parts of the law take effect at different times it has already been signed by President Barack Obama. If you chose A you may have thought that the President wanted to start the new year with new reforms or you may have remembered that the Senate passed the bill in December of 2009 and thought it would be logical for the law to be signed in January. However, A is not the correct choice. For those of you who chose C maybe you like May but your answer is also wrong. The correct answer is B. U.S. President Obama signed the PPACA into law on March 23, 2010, one part of the health care reform of 2010. (there is also the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 signed into law a week later but that can be a discussion for another time).
With the health care reform came a lot of controversy and a lot of confusion. How exactly will this affect you and your small business? Well, for starters you may have employees coming up to you asking you what this means to your employer-employee relationship and whether or not you will be providing them with insurance. For this reason and for the fact that the health care legislation will affect your company’s bank account, it is important to understand the law.

In essence the law was meant to insure more Americans and, when possible, at cheaper rates. Often those uninsured include the self-employed and those working for a small business. Thus, the law is aiming to help you and your employees. The primary means to do this is through health insurance exchanges in which small businesses and individuals can shop for insurance. In fact, one stipulation of the law is that by January 1, 2014, every state should have an American Health Benefit Exchange which will provide for the development of a small business Health Options Program. This program in turn is to assist small businesses in enrolling their employees in qualified health plans offered within the state.

But what can your business do until then? Well, many businesses hire PEO companies to take care of their payroll, assist with taxes, and work on other administrative tasks (in essence they outsource payroll and HR to PEOs) but they can also be helpful in determining an insurance plan to offer health care coverage. PEOs are also responsible for understanding the laws and regulations of the health care system in regards to how it will affect their clients (i.e., you) so they can help small businesses apply for tax credits and determine the value of having health coverage for their employees. In other words, looking into a PEO may be easier than trying to read and understand the hundreds of pages of the law, especially when a PEO is designed to do these cumbersome tasks which small businesses cannot afford to waste their time on.

About the Author
Anthony Kelly is a frequent contributor to and has experience working for small businesses and employee leasing companies since 1997. He frequently writes about compliance, HRO, PEO, and other issues affecting the small business owner. He can be reached at

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