Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in March of 2010, businesses have spent the better part of a decade trying to make sense of what the law means for their organizations. To now complicate matters even further, upon the election of President Donald J. Trump, many have been anticipating a renewed effort to dismantle the law entirely. So what is a small business to do? Here is a breakdown of what you need to know.
The ACA Regulations And Small Business’
The House of Representatives has taken a relatively large step in their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. With passage in the House of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), certain provisions are certainly on the chopping block. However, the bill has yet to pass the Senate and is weeks, (if not months) away from being voted on there. Even once it is, it will likely look significantly different than it currently does. The best advice we can currently give to entrepreneurs looking to navigate small business regulations is to act like business as usual — assume the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. That being said, here are three Affordable Care Act regulations you should know about if you did not already.
Three Affordable Care Act Regulations
By way of executive order, President Trump’s administration has made its first direct move to decrease what it perceives as the burden of small business regulation. Previously, under the Affordable Care Act, small businesses would shop on their own insurance marketplace, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). The Health and Human Services Department has made moves to eliminate that exchange, meaning that while small business owners and HR managers will still check the website to see if they qualify and to apply for government tax credits, they will not select their coverage plans there. Instead, they will have the option of working directly with brokers. The hope is that this will simplify and streamline the process of selecting and enrolling in small group health plans.
Much has been made about the nutritional labeling rules created by the FDA to create compliance with the ACA. While the implementation of the rule has been delayed, for now, the presumption is that if and when it goes into effect, restaurants and other stores selling ready-made food will be obligated to have signage detailing the calorie counts of foods served, including different variations.
If you are a restaurant owner, thinking about the costs of signage and printing new (more content heavy) menus is probably giving you a migraine right about now. The good news is, it is likely that this rule will not apply to you. If you consider yourself a small business owner, the odds are that your restaurant empire is made up of fewer than 20 locations. While we do not envy large chains like Domino’s who face the very real possibility of having to do this, most of our clients in the food industry do not meet that threshold.
Defining “small business”
You probably already know that the requirements of your business under the Affordable Care Act depends on whether you are self-employed, an employer with fewer than 25 employees, an employer with fewer than 50 employees, or an employer with 50 or more employees. And while many business owners have turned to hiring independent contractors rather than employees as a way to keep their regulatory burden in check, those same business owners may be setting themselves at risk if they have not taken appropriate steps to ensure that their subcontractors do not engage in work in a way that the IRS would determine makes them employees.
Does the worker maintain a large amount of independence? Are they able to control how and where they conduct their work? Is their work an integral part of your business? There is not a precise science to determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor, but there are many factors to consider wisely. If in doubt, consult with an HR professional — especially if you are near the threshold for increased Affordable Care Act regulations. In addition to penalties for unpaid payroll taxes, you may be penalized for unknowingly failing to comply with the ACA.
Have any questions about the Affordable Care Act? While we have tried to cover most of the bases with blog posts like the one you are reading now, do not forget that the law is 2,300 pages long … Odds are, we haven’t covered everything. But we do pride ourselves on an unmatched understanding of the law as it applies to small business and we always keep up with current events! Go ahead, give us a call! Let’s talk out any aspects of the Affordable Care Act small business regulations that may be stressing you out.