Health care law uncertainty looms for Bartow businesses
by Mark Andrews
Jan 03, 2013 | 1534 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Upon the re-election of President Barack Obama, businesses across Bartow County and the U.S. have expressed concern over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act coming to fruition and what it means for the future of their business. Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce President Joe Frank Harris Jr. said, however, he predicts the local business community will persevere through any financial changes brought on through the law.

“Everything is going so good in Bartow County right now and everybody is working together, this is just one more thing to overcome,” Harris said. “It’s not going to stop us, we’re not going to just go out of business and quit fighting, we’ll deal with what we’ve got to deal with and make the best of it.”

He added, “Every American has the same concerns, but we’re going to make it through it.”

Denise Wright, who works as call center and compliance manager for the locally-based insurance company Shaw Hankins, recently spoke to the chamber and local businesses regarding the law.

“Keep in mind that PPACA is so complex some employers may or may not be affected by all of these changes,” Wright said in an email. “Adherence to these requirements may depend on the companies status as a grandfathered or non-grandfathered plan, whether the plan is fully or self insured, company size, etc.”

She provided The Daily Tribune News with key points of the law that may affect local businesses.

“The act does not require an employer to provide insurance coverage for its employees, but starting in 2014, some employers will be assessed a penalty if no coverage or insufficient coverage is provided,” Wright said.

She said employers with 50 or more employees may be subject to the penalty if they don’t offer what is considered “qualified” and “affordable” insurance coverage.

“The number of employees is determined by adding full-time employees (working 30-plus hours per week) with full-time equivalents (total part-time hours for the month divided by 120),” Wright said.

She explained there are two types of penalties in the law: one for employers that provide no insurance coverage and one for employers that provide insufficient insurance coverage.

“If an employer does not offer insurance and at least one full-time employee receives a premium tax credit, the employer must pay a penalty of $2,000 per full-time employee (not full-time equivalent), excluding the first 30 employees,” Wright said. “If the employer offers coverage, but the coverage is not ‘qualified’ (pays at least 60 percent of allowed charges and meets minimum benefit standards) or ‘affordable’ (employee contributions exceed 9.5 percent of his/her household income), then the employer must pay $3,000 for each employee that receives a premium tax credit when purchasing individual or family coverage through the state exchange (penalty capped at $2,000 per full-time employee, with the first 30 being excluded).”

She clarified how the government will determine whether a business has employed more than 50 full-time employees over the year.

“An employer will not be considered to employ more than 50 full-time employees if (a) the employer’s workforce only exceeds 50 full-time employees for 120 days or fewer during the calendar year, and (b) the employees in excess of 50 who were employed during that 120-day (or fewer) period were seasonal workers,” Wright said. “‘Seasonal worker’ means a worker who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis as defined by the [Department of Labor], including agricultural workers covered by 29 CFR