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Franchise Owners: Like it or Not, it’s Time to Plan for the Affordable Care Act

2014 will represent a big milestone in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (often called ‘Obamacare’) signed into law by President Obama in March, 2010 and upheld last year by the Supreme Court. Though the government recently announced that employer penalties for not adhering to the law will be pushed back a year to 2015, all of the other requirements of the legislation – so far – are still expected to hit next year. This includes the mandate that most individuals purchase health insurance and that states provide access to health insurance exchanges for individuals and small business owners. The knee-jerk reaction to the legislation among many small business owners and franchisees has been to hate it. Some business owners and franchisees are even threatening to shift fulltime workers to part-time schedules or to keep employee rolls below the 50-employee threshold that would trigger required employee health insurance. Regardless of whether you support Obamacare or oppose it, franchise owners must realize that this is now federal law and plan accordingly. The penalty for not providing employee health insurance will eventually become a reality. Perhaps this is a good time to search for a silver lining and try to maximize the positive aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Over the years, many AAFD members have expressed the desire to provide health benefits to their employees, and the Affordable Care Act may actually lower the cost of providing health insurance. Employers who comply with the law may also find it easier to attract and keep good employees as compared to competitors who seek to avoid the law by cutting back employee hours and avoiding health insurance coverage. Health insurance, as well as free preventative benefits that are mandated by the new law, could help your employees become healthier and more financially stable, which could result in higher job satisfaction and greater productivity. The AAFD is still working to improve the ability of franchisee associations to offer group plans, and we are looking into sponsoring an AAFD Health Insurance Exchange. We continue to support the AAFD Health Savings Account and the AAFD WellCard as cornerstones of the AAFD Health Benefits Program. The AAFD will do what...