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Small Businesses Prepare for Affordable Care Act

Online enrollment for the Affordable Care Act is well underway, and local businesses are preparing for the new requirements they will face.
Fayetteville, AR - Online enrollment for the Affordable Care Act is well underway, and local businesses are preparing for the new requirements they will face.

Small businesses with the equivalent of more than 50 full time employees will be required to provide healthcare or face a fine, but the number of business owners who will be affected is actually lower than some may think.

"I think the small business people are nervous and concerned, because they don't have enough information," says Larry Brian, the Director of the Small Business Technology Development Center at the University of Arkansas. "I would just bet that a lot of small businesses out there who either have less than 50 employees or have 50 or more and cover them with insurance think that they're going to be affected by this... when actually there won't be any change at all to a real majority of small businesses, especially in our area."

Rolf Wilkin, the president and owner of Eureka Pizza is ready for the new rules.

"You hear a lot of fear out there," he says. "People hate being told what to do, but I think we can all agree there's a big healthcare problem."

With 200 employees across nine locations the Fayetteville based chain is well above the 50 employee limit, but so are competitors.

"Since everybody's subjected to it, that it's a level playing field, we've decided not to get really worried about it," he says. "You know your nightmare would be if you had to obey a certain law and other people didn't."

The pizza place provides healthcare for management already, and anyone over 30 hours is enrolled in AR Health Networks.

"That program is being kind of merged into the state medicaid private option," Wilkin says. "It's not going to be an enormous difference for us."

But Brian says small business owners qualifying companies that don't already provide insurance can expect substantial budget increases .

"It can be very expensive to provide insurance for 50 or more employees," he says. "Most companies, when their expenses increase, they pass it on to their customers... They probably have a choice to make, and that's either to provide the insurance, pay the fine, or somehow reduce their workforce."

Wilkin says he won't cut anything other than pizza pies.

"It's the law of the land," he says. "We can support it with a smile I suppose."
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