The ACA and Legal Practices (#20) / Representing small business employers

December 24, 2014

health-care-lawThis is installment #20 in a series of blog postings on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and legal practices.

Many small-business employers rely on attorney assistance to decide how to respond to the ACA.

Most small companies are limited in their ability to analyze their benefit options and make decisions that best fit their specific situations.

Companies with fewer than 50 full-time-equivalent employees are exempt from the ACA mandate that affects larger companies. These small-business employers can choose not to provide group health insurance coverage, without penalty.

If they decide to offer coverage, they can shop on the Small-Business Options Program (SHOP) portion of the Exchange for their state. They can select a plan, and arrange for employees to sign up.

Under such circumstances, companies may be entitled to a temporary tax credit, to help offset short-term costs.

They can also arrange for group insurance coverage directly with a broker, but will lose the possibility of a tax credit.

The problems facing many small-business employers include the complexity of the decision making, the costs of benefits, and the burdens placed on their companies by moving ahead.

For a full analysis, such an employer may need to explore Exchange options; consider off-Exchange options with a broker; and evaluate any tax credits with a tax preparer.

But there is also the “big picture” to be considered, as to how these details fit into overall company needs and plans, and the personal situations of the owners.

Attorneys who work with such companies understand the environment in which the business operates, including the legal and financial issues of concern. Long-term business objectives are often included as part of legal planning services.

In many cases, attorneys can take on part of the load for small-business owners, by gathering information on benefit options and their implementation, then combining these with an understanding of the entire business plan and personal plans of the owners.

Attorneys who have long-term relationships with small-business clients are in a good position to see how benefit options will—or will not—fit into personal plans by the owners and the financial needs of the business.

Company owners often want to turn to a familiar relationship for help on all major issues.

Attorneys can expand the scope of their support by being sufficiently familiar with the ACA and available options to include such analysis in their larger representation.

More information about implementation of the Affordable Care Act and associated legal practice issues may be found in recent books on the ACA and on the health care system, other postings to this blog, and on the ACA Blog, also written by the author of this series.