Oct. 23--TWIN FALLS -- It's been more than two years since the health care reform law passed, but Stephanie Jaskowski still has questions.
As the financial director of Blaine Manor Extended Care, Jaskowski said she's worried about the rising costs of health insurance for her 42 employees.
"Costs are going up and we are raising our deductibles," she said. "There haven't been a lot of costs savings."
In the middle of sifting through health insurance premiums, sections of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are about to go into effect, which could affect what she offers to her employees.
On Thursday, Jaskowski and a handful of other small business owners attended a health care reform forum to learn more about how the law will impact their business in the future.
The message wasn't all positive. The Idaho Business Review-sponsored panelists explained that while the reform law helps address several problems inside the health care system, it doesn't drive down costs or increase access.
For example, businesses that have fewer than 50 employees that choose to not offer health insurance will be hit with a $2,000 fine for every full-time employee not offered insurance. However, the fine doesn't count the first 30 employees. So for a business with 40 employees that chooses not to offer health insurance, the fine would only count toward 10 employees.
"Businesses are going to have to change their strategy," said Stephen Cilley, a forum panelist and CEO of Ataraxis, a professional employer organization based in Boise. "You can hire as many part-time jobs as you want, employers don't have to pay anything for it as long as they remain under 30 employees so they can hire as many part-time workers to make up for the full-time equivalent."
However, choosing not to provide health insurance could hurt recruiting competitive employees, said MarniePackard, Manager ofIdaho Government Relations.
"This is not a financial decision; This is a recruiting decision," she said. "Businesses need to start figuring what they want to do in the future now."
For Jaskowski, she's agrees that Blaine Manor's premiums are expensive but doesn't know if they will drop in the future.
"There isn't a lot of incentive to grow," she said. "Small employers are being forced to strategize and we're still figuring out what that will mean for us."
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