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The Fiscal Cliff Will the Affordable Care Act really be affordable? That however-many thousand-dollar question has the business community in the dark, rattled, and riled up Story and photos by Steve Hortegas

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n 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and, along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, set forth sweeping changes in the U.S. health care system effective in 2014. Employers with 50 or more fulltime employees will have to provide health care coverage, and those with fewer than 50 will not. Individuals not covered by a plan will have to provide their own. Both employers and individuals face penalties for non-compliance.

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As the calendar turns closer toward the reality to what commonly has become known as Obamacare, almost as universal as the health-care coverage it proclaims is the uncertainty and mystery about how it will work. Or not. Business Pulse found several examples. One local business owner revealed the possibility that he might reduce as many as half of his company’s full-time employees to part-time to avoid penalties imposed by the ACA for companies with 50 or more employees. Kathy Varner, a partner in the certified public accountants firm of VSH that is staging seminars

on the topic, reported that she has heard of three companies who have sold out during the last two years because of their concerns about health care. Another owner, speaking with a request for anonymity, declared that the company would simply pay the stiff $2,000 fine per employee for non-compliance with ACA requirements. He’s talking about more than 100 workers, therefore over $200,000 in fines would be less expensive than the imposed benefits of the ACA because the workers are seasonal temporary, albeit fulltime, hires. Just these few examples, drawn from a deep pool of open discussions at seminars, panel presen-


Business Pulse Magazine: Winter 2013