Healthcare Reform…Trick or Treat??

The closer we get to 2014 the more scary things look for healthcare reform.  We’re about to walk through the cracked doorway of a dark room not knowing what’s inside.  The music is building, the suspense reaching new heights.  Just like in the movies we don’t yet know what’s in that dark room.  It could be nothing, it could be something that imposes a greater fear than we ever expected.  Think of the first time you saw Michael Myers in Halloween.  Before anything bad ever happened in the movie you were left with an eerie and unsettled feeling that there was an impending doom on its way.

Regardless if you own your own business, work for a small company with less than 50 employees, or work for a colossal employer with tens of thousands of employees, the Affordable Care Act will have an effect on you and your family.  The type of policy you have, the premiums you pay, the contributions made on your behalf by your employer most likely will change.  The reality is that we just don’t know how much will change.  It is this not-knowing that creates the same anxiety we feel as we watched The Shape appear behind Jamie Lee Curtis‘ character Laurie for the first time in Halloween.  While we didn’t know for sure what would happen next we knew that whatever it was wouldn’t be good.  And we were right.

Many people believe that all of Healthcare Reform has been postponed until 2015.  This is incorrect.  What’s been postponed is a piece of the Act that mandates businesses with more than 50 full time equivalent employees to provide health coverage if they don’t currently offer it.  This roller coaster ride between the current Obama Administration and GOP-led House raise concerns, questions, and anxiety levels, while diminishing overall trust in the U.S. Government.  Republican or Democrat, Congress’ approval rating sits at an all-time low of 17%.  CBS News has gone as far as labeling this 113th Congress as being the “least productive in history”.

Just like Laurie in Halloween we’re left wondering what we will encounter when we get through that door.  The questions still on the table include:

  1. How much more will insurance cost me and my family once all the pieces of the Affordable Care Act go into place?
  2. Will my employer stop offering coverage entirely and pay the fine because it’s cheaper than providing insurance coverage?
  3. What happens to the quality of my healthcare as we layer on another 35 – 45 million people to the current health system infrastructure?
  4. Will there be doctor shortages in the U.S. as seen in many European countries?

In a previous presentation put on by the NFIB stated that every business owner would need to have an accountant, broker, and attorney to help them sort through what the Affordable Care Act meant for their specific business.  Given the vastness of this Act, and the number of different areas affected by this legislation, it’s perhaps impossible for any one person or adviser to know everything.

To give yourself some peace of mind I’d suggest finding a few trusted partners who can assess your specific situation and provide feedback and guidance tailored to your specific circumstance.  Be wary of those dispensing a general prescription for your business relative to Healthcare Reform.  Remember every business is different as are their employees.  Add to that the fact that every business has been handling health coverage differently making their specific employee situations just as different.  A one-size fits all approach will not work and may even lead to significant business failures.

Invest the time you need to educate yourself.  Turn the lights on before going into that room, as it may make things less scary when you finally encounter them.  And finally surround yourself with trusted advisors that can provide guidance and confidence as you make these important decisions that will most certainly affect you, your business, your employees, and their families.  This is one of those rare moments in history when we’re faced with one piece of legislation that will impact everyone in so many different ways.

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