Delay in health insurance requirements 'sigh of relief' for busi - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Delay in health insurance requirements 'sigh of relief' for businesses

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

The White House decided to delay the implementation of a major part of its sweeping healthcare legislation, a part many say seriously impacts small businesses.

The Affordable Care Act requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide affordable health insurance or pay a penalty.

That portion of the plan was supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2014, but it has now been delayed until 2015.

Experts said the delay is because the government is simply running out of time.

"A big piece of this problem is the government is not ready," said Texas Association of Health Underwriters Member Wendy Bratteli. "They don't have their protocols in place yet."

In a blog post Tuesday night, the White House said the move is to help businesses adapt, as well as an effort to cut down on the confusing red tape.

But East Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert said he doesn't buy it.

"There is just not enough simplification that they could ever do to avoid it being a disaster," said Gohmert. "They heard from enough major employers that they were not going to be able to get this done and that if they forced it, it would mean massive layoffs, which would be just devastating to the employment situation."

The new law requires any business with more than 50 employees to either provide affordable health insurance or face a $2,000 per employee penalty.

"You cannot buy health insurance for $2,000 a year on anybody," Bratteli said. "So an employer, when you begin to investigate that, if you haven't bought it already, you're not going to buy it for the fine."

"They were being required to provide insurance at a certain minimum level and we don't even have the certain minimum level fully established yet," said Gohmert. "Insurance companies are not able to tell employees with any degree of certainty, 'here is what your policy will have in it, here is what it will cost.'"

But whichever decision businesses make, it still increases their costs.

"Those people have to determine, ‘How do I get the money? Do I need to reduce my workforce? Do I need to close my doors? Do I need to increase the price of my product?'" said Bratteli.

The delay only applies to businesses required to provide healthcare, but all individuals will still have to be covered under an insurance policy beginning January 1, 2014.

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