On Jan. 1, 2014, the next phase of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare goes into effect. That phase of the landmark healthcare reform includes one of the most controversial parts of the legislation: the individual and employer mandates.,Next year individuals will be required to have health insurance and businesses with 50 or more full-time employees (those who are employed over 30 hours a week) will be required to provide their workers with a health insurance option. (Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt.) Both mandates come with a stiff penalty for noncompliance.,Businesses in particular will have to pay annual penalties of $2000 per full-time worker, with exemptions for the first 30 employees, meaning that companies with 50 uninsured employees will face fines of $40,000. Healthcare Solutions Team has been already working with small businesses so that they have the opportunity to take advantage of all the different plans that are available to them as well.,Not surprisingly, businesses at or near that 50 full-timer mark are worried. Historically small businesses have always paid more for health insurance than their larger counterparts. Industry experts are predicting that health insurance premiums could increase significantly across the board in 2014 since insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage or raise rates based on medical history. According to a report released earlier this year by the Society of Actuaries, health insurance premiums could increase nationwide by up to 30 percent next year.,The big question on most small business owners’ minds is: “How much is this going to cost me?” That is a good question and the honest answer is no one really knows for sure yet. The speculation is that rates will go up but the fine details are few and far in between. The picture should become clearer this summer as more insurance companies begin releasing the details of the plans they’ll be offering next year.,But until then businesses struggling to figure out a course of action don’t have any hard numbers to go on…,According to a recent Gallup poll, 48 percent of small businesses surveyed believe that the Affordable Care Act will be bad for business. Only nine percent said they thought it would be beneficial. When it comes to costs, 55 percent said they were expecting their health care costs to go up. A further 52 percent expect the quality of health benefits they provide to decline.,So, will Obamacare spell disaster for American small businesses? Probably not in the way that a lot of political pundits are predicting, but there’s no doubt that it’s putting many small businesses in a very uncomfortable position and the legislation could significantly change the way small businesses operate and employ others. Only time will tell the full effect of this monumental change.

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