DeKALB – The Supreme Court may have ruled on the controversial Affordable Care Act, but many local business owners still aren’t sure how the law will affect them.
One such business owner is David Barrow, the owner of OC Imageworks, 1600 E. Lincoln Highway, a video production and graphics design agency.
“I hope it makes it easier to get health insurance for employees,” Barrow said.
Ray Binkowski, owner and CEO of FitWorkz, 1690 Sycamore Road, echoed Barrow’s uncertainty on how the health care law could affect his business.
He said he has spoken with certified public accountants and as other local business owners about how his bottom line could be affected when the law – which requires businesses with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance benefits to their workers or face a financial penalty – takes full effect in 2014.
“I don’t think anyone has a clear idea,” Binkowski said. “I’m not sure what it will look like in 2014.”
Binkowski said the law could be a benefit to the fitness industry, but people should be responsible for their health and decisions.
“People still have to be their own best advocate,” Binkowski said.
However, Kim Clarke Maisch, Illinois director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said a number of small businesses will figure that paying the penalty is cheaper than paying for their employees’ health insurance.
Barrow said OC Imageworks has six employees total, four full-time and two part-time. Binkowski said he has 12 to 16 employees with two to four interns at any given time. According to healthcare.gov, businesses with fewer than 25 employees that provide health insurance could qualify for a tax credit to offset the cost of their insurance.
The Affordable Care Act also requires that health insurance exchanges be set up within each state and should be operational by 2014. These exchanges will be marketplaces where individuals and businesses will be able to shop around for insurance plans.
Maisch said the federation initially supported the prospect of health insurance exchanges.
“We were OK with that, but as with everything, the devil is in the details,” Maisch said. “We’ve been fighting for what the exchange has looked like. ...We’ve stopped those on the other side who want it to be a government marketplace, not a free marketplace.”
Discussions are ongoing, Maisch said, but she does not expect any legislation to be formally considered by the Illinois legislature until 2013.
The NFIB was a plaintiff in the lawsuit that led to the landmark Supreme Court ruling upholding the law. Maisch said NFIB initially supported the prospect of health care reform. She said one of the most pressing issues facing small businesses today is rising health care costs.
“This issue must be resolved in the right way. It’s a very important issue – we’re going to keep up the fight,” Maisch said.
She added that her organization now would focus its efforts on defeating President Barack Obama in the November elections. The goal is to repeal the law – either completely or partially – by 2014.
Both the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and the Kishwaukee Country Club declined to comment on the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act.
A human resources manager at the 3M Distribution Center said they are reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision and its implications.