FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — How much the new federal health care law will cost state businesses was the prevailing question Monday as Florida lawmakers met to discuss the law. The answers were all over the map.
"I would hesitate to say there's a universal answer that applies to everyone but you know, I think for the majority of employers it's going to be pretty close to status quo to where they're at currently," said Justin Kindy, a senior vice president with Aon Hewitt.
Jon Urbanek, a senior vice president with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, warned that because of new requirements in the federal law, many small business employers will have to increase the benefits they currently offer in their packages, which means spending more money.
"Most will have to offer a lot richer benefits than they offer today," he told a Senate health care committee.
His company still doesn't have a breakdown of a dollar amount the law will have on a business with 25 employees, 100 employees and so on because he said they are still waiting for federal health officials to clarify many guidelines.
That leaves a lot small business in limbo.
Tallahassee small business owner Kim Williams said he was "thoroughly confused" and still had tremendous uncertainty about how the new health care law would impact his company of about 75 employees. His company has picked up 100 percent of employees' health care costs every year except for this past year.
"A lot of small businesses out there are seriously considering that they're going to have to go out of business because of the convoluted way this all plays out," said Williams, president of Marpan Supply Company.
Urbanek said about 50 percent of the small businesses his company talked with initially indicated they would opt out and pay a penalty for not providing coverage. But as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida is working with employers, that number has fallen below 20 percent, he said.
The health plans that employers offer must meet two criteria.
It must have an actuarial value of 60 percent and employees can't contribute more than 9.5 percent of their wages. If the plan doesn't meet that requirement and an employee goes to exchange and gets a subsidy, the employer will get hit with a $3,000 penalty, said Urbanek.
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