Food Retail and Health Care Reform

Health care is a struggle for most companies, but even more so for the food retail business that relies on employees to provide service to their customers. New rules scheduled to go into effect in 2014 are going to dramatically impact many food businesses, forcing some to look for small loan options to cover the increasing costs. Restaurant owners are convinced that the changes in health care reform may end up meaning a 30 percent increase in health care costs from opinions evaluated at restaurant conferences around the country. With the federal government demanding that businesses provide health care to a larger number of their workforce, businesses are scrambling to come up with a plan.

Opting Out

The government’s goal is to include more people in health care plans, and in order to enforce compliance have required businesses who don’t provide insurance to pay a $2,000 penalty for each uninsured worker. Many restaurant owners are looking at the penalty imposed and deciding that they may end up just paying it and foregoing the health care plans in 2014 as a way to manage health care costs. With uncertainty high on further business regulations and upcoming taxes, businesses, especially restaurant owners, are going to be conservative about their choices and try to limit their liabilities as much as possible by opting out and voluntarily paying the penalty.

Bad News for Workers

Obviously, this defeats the purpose of putting health care reform into action. It seems the incentives to provide a 50 percent tax credit for premiums that companies will be forced to pay is not enough to offset the liability of being forced to offer health care to all their workers. Another possibility that some  experts predict may happen is that business owners simply choose to reduce their workforce rather than pay benefits or a penalty. For restaurant owners who rely heavily on their workforce, this is probably not a good option, but for other businesses it could lead to more layoffs and a rise in unemployment.


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