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Small Businesses Sort Out Affordable Care Act Details

Small businesses around Ohio are struggling to sort out the details of the Affordable Care Act. 

As Lewis Wallace reports from Ohio Public Radio  station WYSO, it’s unclear whether recent delays in the law help or hurt the confusion.

The big Obamacare question for small employers is this: am I required to provide health insurance to my employees or not?

Paul: And that question is sort of like that underwear commercial: boxers, briefs, depends…

That’s Paul Tambe with BW Employee Benefits speaking to Dayton-area small business owners.

And yes, it does depend. Here’s the basic rule: companies with less than 50 full-time employees are exempt. 

Companies with 50 or more—need to provide health coverage for their full-timers or pay fines.

But the devil’s in the details, and there are a lot of details: just for example, full-time means an average of 30 hours or more per week, averaged over the month.

Kevin Finley with Space Management, a Dayton cleaning service, says his first challenge is just counting his employees.

KV: When you’re operating a business and someone’s off sick and you want someone else to cover, all of a sudden that person who normally works 20, 25 hours is working 40 hours. So, you know, it’s a little dicey.

And the timing of the employer mandate recently got pushed back—to 2015 for larger companies, and now to 2016 for those with 50 to 99 full-time employees.

Meanwhile, the online Marketplace for small businesses to shop for plans is still not online.

Amy Crouch, an employee benefits expert at BW, says this transition is full of bumps as the administration issues rules and subrules based on an already complex law.

AC: You get into tax and law and IRS...hello! That’s not always fun. And then on a lot of these items it’s what it’s gonna mean in the future in terms of a practical perspective. You know, what does it really mean? And that time will tell.

She calls the future of health care the “new world.” But right now, she says, we’re still partly living in the old one.