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5 things veterinary practice owners need to know about healthcare reform


The Supreme Court has upheld a majority of the Affordable Care Act. So now what?

Veterinary clinic owners and practice managers have enough to worry about-managing staff, keeping pace with new procedures and trends, attracting new clients, and making a profit. So, are things about to get even more hectic now that the Supreme Court upheld the majority of the Affordable Care Act? The answer: not necessarily. Here are five things veterinary clinic owners and managers need to know about healthcare reform, according to Sean O'Connor, consumer health insurance expert for GoHealthInsurance.com.

1. Employer-sponsored plans must be affordable and provide minimum value. In the eyes of the law, “affordability” means that out-of-pocket premiums workers pay cannot exceed 9.5 percent of their family income. “Minimum value” translates to this: The health insurance plan has to pay for a minimum of 60 percent of medical care covered. This is aimed at preventing employees from being overwhelmed by co-pays and deductibles. The U.S. Department of Treasury has not yet released a detailed proposal clarifying whether or not the law will set requirements for what a plan must cover.

2. Smaller veterinary clinics do not have to offer health insurance. Under the law, small businesses (less than 50 employees) are under no obligation to provide health insurance to employees.

3. Larger veterinary clinics and hospitals that do not offer health insurance coverage will likely face a penalty tax. The law does not automatically fine large businesses (those with more than 50 employees) that do not provide health insurance. A large business is only penalized if or when any one of its employees receives a tax credit for buying their own private health insurance plan. If your large clinic does not offer health insurance, chances are high that at least one of your full-time workers will seek out his or her coverage through one of the new health insurance exchanges. The employer penalty is equal to $2,000 multiplied by the number of workers in the business in excess of 30 workers (with the penalty amount increasing over time).

4. Small clinics are eligible for tax credits. Even though small businesses aren't obligated to offer health insurance, some may want to. If your business employs up to 25 people, pays average annual wages below $50,000, and provides health insurance, you may qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35 percent to offset your health insurance costs. As of 2014, the small business health insurance tax credit increases to up to 50 percent for qualifying businesses.

5. Part-time workers don't apply. The new law considers only employees who work over 30 hours a week to be full-time. Your veterinary clinic is not required to extend health insurance coverage to part-time employees.

Sean O'Connor is a consumer health insurance expert with GoHealthInsurance.com, an online marketplace where consumers can compare health insurance plans and companies.

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