Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Health Care Reform: 3 Things for Small Businesses to Watch

Health Care Reform

Republicans and Democrats have had their political disagreements and fights in the past but none have been such a death match as the fight over health care reform. With the battle growing each day, some small business owners are beginning to worry that their priorities will got lost in the chaos.

Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association states that "Congress hasn't approached health care from a small business owner's standpoint." Whatever the outcome, there are three important health care issues to keep an eye on come this fall.

1.) Is hiring one extra employee worth your business having to pay tens of thousands of dollars in federal fines? According to the legislation before the House, if your business has a payroll as low as $250,000 then you are required to pay a 2% tax if they did not provide health insurance. This tax would raise to 8% as payroll grew to $400,000. In early drafts of Senate legislation, firms that have 25 or more employees would be required to insure them all or face a penalty per-employee. However the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has amended this problem. The bill now excludes a business' first 25 employees and not only the businesses with 25 employees or less which would have resulted in a $750 fee per worker over. So if you add a 26th man to your work force you will only face one $750 fee instead of 26.

2.) Some people want to see the Government put a limit on the value of tax-deductible insurance. In concordance with the current uncapped system, big businesses are allowed to offer premium insurance tax-free which is a good way for them to recruit and keep employees. If you put a tax on this premium insurance, it may generate the funding required for the health care reform. In addition it may also limit plans which cover unnecessary procedures consequently leveling the playing field for small businesses.

3.) It is no surprise that people who own a small business or are self-employed don't have the bargaining prowess that the corporate giants do. But, if Congress allows entrepreneurs the ability to form insurance purchasing pools, all that could change. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced in 2008 and 2009 SHOP, Small Business Health Options Program, which allowed bills such as this.

We can only sit back and wait for the fall to arrive to see how this health care reform unravels. Needless to say the epic battle between the Republicans and Democrats will rage on until then and no matter the outcome, this will definitely be something to keep tabs on as it affects all Americans.

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