Clients are coming to accountants asking for advice about the health care reform law, especially after the shaky rollout last month of the online health care exchanges and marketplaces by various states and the federal government.
Sylvia Dion, MPA, CPA, founder and managing member at PrietoDion Consulting Partners LLC in the Boston area, is finding that her small-business clients are perplexed about the new exchanges. "I'm finding that in general, there's confusion on how the various requirements of the ACA apply to them, especially for those businesses that have fewer than 50 employees," she said. "Also, small businesses that are interested in the Small Business Health Insurance Option Plan [SHOP] are hearing about various changes, such as that they'll be required to choose only one plan for all of their employees. That is, they won't be able to pick and choose a different plan for each of their employees."
Dion also found that some business owners believe that they can't apply at all at this point, even though they are able to apply by mail or over the phone, if not online. "Another point of confusion - more so for individuals - is that they believe being insured is optional. They don't realize that it's mandatory."
For Brian Stoner, a CPA in Burbank, Calif., who specializes in tax preparation and planning for entertainment industry clients and small businesses, the advice he is giving them about the new health insurance exchanges depends on their income and the availability of other health insurance policies. "The availability of the reimbursements for insurance purchased through the exchanges makes them enticing if the income of the client qualifies them," he noted.
Ed Burdorf, managing principal of the firm Burdorf, Parrott and Associates PC, in Emmetsburg, Iowa, said that he has not advised anyone yet, but he did try the subsidy calculator on the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation's Web site to see what the net insurance would be for various individuals.
Burdorf said that he tried using the calculator for one employee in Iowa, and found that, "It seems that a company that is now paying for insurance for its employees (those with less than 50 employees) would come out way ahead if they increased the salary enough that the employee can pay for the insurance and the company drops the insurance benefit."
Filipus Suandi, EA, a tax practitioner and controller in the Atlanta area, said that he would provide business clients with general information, such as to provide notice as required to their employees, and that Jan. 1, 2014, is the date when the individual mandate takes effect, while Jan. 1, 2015, is the date for large employers, and that a tax credit may be available for small business if they qualify.
Tracy Kellogg-Brodeur, owner of Kaleidoscope Marketing Strategy in Wilmington, N.C., is telling clients to hold off for now on signing up for the insurance exchanges. "We have recommended that they wait until the Web site volume settles down, as we continually receive calls that the site has crashed," she noted.
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