By Dan Danner
Halloween’s over, but small-business owners trying to navigate the new federal health care law feel like they’re trapped in a haunted house where something scary lurks behind every door.
Even before the Affordable Care Act’s online enrollment system dropped dead on arrival, Main Street entrepreneurs had grown fearful that they will be the main victims of an overly ambitious scheme certain to hamper job growth, damage employee morale and drive the cost of health care even further out of reach.
As expected, they’re now facing compliance with a rickety, untested and expensive government monstrosity that depends on luck, politics and heavy-handed enforcement to succeed. Getting accurate information from government sources is no easy task. Yet it is crucial that those who own and operate the nation’s small enterprises prepare themselves for more frightful ACA ogres to appear around the next corner.
To aid small businesses in understanding the new law, the National Federation of Independent Business has created several online resources to guide owners through the fog of new taxes, penalties and regulations. A preview of what’s looming ahead can be found in “Understanding the New Healthcare Law” at NFIB.com.
Available advisories include the NFIB Healthcare Playbook, a step-by-step guide to the law’s provisions. This manual offers critical details about minimum essential coverage and the individual mandate tax, employer mandate penalties, changes in the individual and small-group marketplaces, essential health benefits and dependent coverage.
Also described are tax issues, such as temporary credits, flexible spending accounts, Medicare payroll tax increases and expense deduction limits. Compliance requirements such as W-2 reporting, benefits and coverage summaries, and paperwork demands are covered too.
Some small-business owners may qualify for cost-sharing subsidies based on income. To determine eligibility, NFIB’s new Health Insurance Exchange features a hassle-free subsidy calculator.
One major shock that entrepreneurs got early in the push for this law has been resolved. The government sought to require businesses to complete IRS Form 1099s for every business-to-business transaction of at least $600. Simply a ruse to snag additional tax revenue to implement the law, the result would have been yet another drag on small-business productivity and growth.
NFIB, along with other business organizations, waged a successful fight and repealed the ploy. But it was a costly battle that unnecessarily pulled small-business owners away from managing their operations, further weakening the already sluggish economy.
Many more onerous provisions are being challenged. For example, when stitching the law together, uninformed policymakers with scant understanding about business and free enterprise arbitrarily decided to label full-time employees as those who work as few as 30 hours a week. This threshold has already forced some employers to halt hiring and reduce workers’ hours. It will no doubt add more paperwork burdens on top of existing federal, state and local regulations if not removed.
This struggle is not for the fainthearted. But until small business’ goal of affordable health care is realized, NFIB’s opposition to this or any other ill-conceived federal plan will be strong and unending.
President and CEO, NFIB