Neil Trautwein, VP and employee benefits policy counsel with the National Retail Federation, said employers face multiple challenges and will need to figure out how to adapt to requirements in the Affordable Care Act. Trautwein was one of several speakers today at the AWB Health Care Forum in Bellevue.
Trautwein says it’s a tough law to like and understand. The NRF is fiercely opposed to the law and believes it’s punitive, will hurt job creation and be too complex to administer. Regardless, since provisions are quickly coming to bear, employers need to be prepared to implement them.
“While this is the law of the land, we need to do our best to navigate the law,” said Trautwein.
One question asked of Trautwein from the owner of a restaurant was whether or not it’s cheaper for business owners to provide health insurance or pay a penalty under the ACA for not providing insurance. Trautwein says there’s a tilt, at least in the short term, for businesses not to provide coverage and pay the penalty. This could change as penalty costs increase in subsequent years. The NRF has a penalty calculator for businesses to determine what their penalty liabilities might be.
There are also challenges for small businesses who want to provide coverage. Unfortunately, the ACA doesn’t do much to allow smaller employers to provide coverage to their employees.
Trautwein hopes that companies are already weighing their options. Many employer questions are addressed on the following website. He says it’s hard for employers to plan for benefits in 2014 when they don’t know what to offer. He also doesn’t see any reductions in health care costs with the implementation of the ACA.
“If people can’t afford to buy health insurance, what good is the ACA doing?”