CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - The main components of the Affordable Care Act take effect in less than a year and as the day gets closer, many local business owners tell WDEF they feel anxious about how employee health insurance will affect their business.
Jennifer Hoff was one of many local small business owners who attended the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga workshop on the affordable Health Care Act.
"As a business owner I've just not taken the time to look closer at the law but then when you see 2014 approaching it makes you think ok I really need to take a closer look," said Hoff.
Jennifer was not alone because many small business owners who attended the workshop were confused about the Affordable Health Care Act.
"Now is the time to clear up all the myths and lets talk about the facts. Lets talk essentially what we're required to do and what are employers required to do,"said Chattanooga Urban League president Warren Logan who felt the confusion over the act was based on political mudslinging between law makers.
So here are the facts:
Small Businesses with more than 50 employees that choose not to provide insurance, provide insurance that is too expensive or insurance that doesn't meet a minimum standard will pay a penalty worth $2000 per employee. The penalty or fine is used to offsets the cost of the employees without insurance who will use the emergency room as their primary health provider.
There will be an annual fee of $63 dollars paid by small business employers purchasing insurance. The business fee is decreased by a small amount each year until 2017 when preexisting conditions are completely phased out.
By next year, small Businesses can apply for tax breaks of up to 50% of the cost of their employees premiums if they have fewer than 25 full-time employees. To qualify businesses must pay for at least 50 percent of their employees insurance premiums and their workers average annual wages can't be more than $50,000.
"Some employers are probably going to have some financial challenges and things of that nature so it's going to be a wait and see from the standpoint all of the provisions of the act," said Logan when asked if the law will hurt small businesses.
WDEF asked many Facebook followers if they think the Affordable Health Care Act will hurt small business or not have any affect at all. An overwhelming majority of the responses basically said it would hurt.