Small business owners adjust to health care reform

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Some businesses will soon have to provide health care to employees and that could mean trouble.

Many of those mandatory reforms do not go into effect until 2014, but insurance advisors advise small business owners to start planning for what is ahead.

Tom Hamilton's restaurant in Pikeville has not been open long.

"We've been here two and a half years now. You know anytime you're starting a new business, it's a struggle for the first little bit," said Hamilton.

But in this down economy, he said he cannot afford to provide health care for his employees.

"It would be very detrimental to us to have to provide that extra money to our employees," said Hamilton.

That was the topic of discussion at the Pike County Chamber of Commerce's Town Hall meeting Tuesday night.

Insurance expert Gregory Schell advised business owners how to handle new health care reform measures.

"Small business owners are not going to be as impacted as some of the larger companies," said Schell.

Schell said many smaller businesses will be able to buy insurance together in group exchanges, but that is not set in stone yet.

"We don't know how the exchanges are going to work. They are working on that now," said Schell.

Business owner Pamela Howard said she is trying to make sure she understands the changes.

"You have to always be sure that you are aware, that you are educated on what you are doing so that you are always complying with the law," said Howard.

The changes will take place over the next few years, but one part of the new law will come into play this year.

Schell said small businesses are entitled to receive a 35 percent tax credit for insurance premiums paid toward employee health care.

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