With the Supreme Court's 2012 ruling on its constitutionality, and the results of the November election tallied, anyone who was waiting to see what the fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, or "Obamacare") would be can finally start making decisions about how they will approach providing health insurance to their employees, or whether to provide it at all.
For multi-shop operators, or owners that are planning on expanding, the law will have a significant impact on insurance premiums, the types of plans available, minimum coverage requirements and deductible levels. For those companies that already have more than 50 full time or full-time equivalent employees, and those that may cross the threshold by 2014, the insurance mandate will force a decision to either provide coverage or pay a penalty.
Those shops with fewer than 50 employees, however, may be able to take advantage of some temporary tax credits if they already offer insurance, or plan to in the future. And employees that may have been going without coverage will have new options for obtaining it, once the state insurance exchanges get up and running.
"2013 is the time to stay on top of this as much as possible," says Kevin Kuhlman, legislative affairs manager at the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a group that aggressively lobbied against the ACA. "Meet with your tax and insurance professionals early to discuss how it will affect your business, and educate your employees as much as possible. The more you communicate any major changes, the less of a surprise it will be to everybody."
According to some estimates, small businesses pay up to 18 percent more for health coverage than larger firms, and based on requests for premium increases by insurers this year, you can expect the cost to continue to rise. In some cases, that will be by double-digit percentages. For body shop owners, particularly for those with multiple locations, there will be both good and bad news once the insurance mandates take effect in 2014. Here's a quick rundown: