Is It Good For You?

The Health Care Reform Bill signed into law by President Obama on March 23, and if you listen to some of the most vocal commentators, you might think it means the end to your livelihood and the world as we know it. But while a lot still remains to be seen, it's possible the bill could be a good thing for small businesses.

To start with, by 2014 Small Business Health Exchange Options Programs (SHOP Exchanges) will allow small businesses to pool together to buy insurance. Small businesses are defined as those with fewer than 100 employees. States do have the option of limiting pools to companies with fewer than 50 employees through 2016. Also, until the SHOP Exchanges kick in, businesses with 10 or fewer full-time equivalent employees earning less than $25,000 a year on average will be eligible for a tax credit of 35 percent of health insurance costs. The tax credit will remain in place, increasing to 50 percent of costs, for the first two years a company buys insurance through its state exchange. Companies with 11-25 employees and an average wage up to $50,000 are eligible for partial credits.

On the other hand, for rental businesses that employ more than 50 full-time people, things could change dramatically come 2014. Companies must offer health insurance or pay fines of $750 per full-time employee per year. The health insurance offered must also cover 60 percent of employee costs overall. This would be a dramatic cost increase for some businesses that currently only cover 50 percent of employee costs.

One thing is for sure - this is certainly not over yet. In the meantime, we should all continue to stay on top of this important issue, contact our local representatives, and start planning for 2014 now.

Personally, I'm optimistic about what this Bill means to all Americans. It isn't perfect, but it's a starting point. It's hard to argue the fact that health care reform is desperately needed in this country, and I believe we've taken a small step in the right direction.

On a different note, I would like to let you know what's new on RentalProductNews.com. We recently introduced my blog, Counter Thoughts with Jenny Lescohier. I'm still getting used to being part of the blogosphere and would certainly welcome your input and participation in this new forum for communication. Please drop by and leave your comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

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