Survey shows business disfavors, doesn’t understand health care changes

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With key deadlines looming, most small businesses in Utah are still struggling to understand the significant changes and overwhelming regulations headed their way.

That’s according to a recent survey conducted by the Salt Lake Chamber and SelectHealth, a Salt Lake City-based health insurance provider.

An overwhelming 81 percent of Utah businesses say they are unclear about what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires of them, while 75 percent are either opposed or, at least, ambivalent to the ACA.

Not exactly inspiring numbers.

Greg Matis, senior counsel at SelectHealth and Terry Buckner, president and CEO of The Buckner Company, a Salt Lake City-based health insurance broker discussed the ACA and challenges it poses for businesses on KSL-5′s Sunday Edition with Richard Piatt.

“I don’t think health care was ever simple,” says Buckner. “Any time you have a transaction that involves an employee, their employer, their medical provider and a health insurance carrier, it’s a complex transaction. Now you add on top of that the IRS to regulate it and some mandates by the federal government as to what your insurance should look like–it certainly becomes complex.”

It’s not as though businesses fail to recognize the value of providing health benefits to their employees. According to the survey, 90 percent of businesses see providing health insurance as a top priority.

“Small business owners are enormously affected by this,” said Matis. “They have a lot of options they didn’t have before but they don’t have a lot of resources to help them understand this law, and I think that’s where the large complaints come from small businesses. This [the ACA] has a lot of moving parts and it’s hard to understand.”

“Not only do small business owners not understand it, I’m not sure many of us understand it, it’s a moving target,” said Buckner. “Everyday there are changes and everyone who thinks they are an expert today may be out of date tomorrow.”

Buckner says navigating health care today without some help is as crazy as a large business trying to do its own taxes. “Right now—more than ever—the expertise is huge.”

The problem is, only 20 percent believe the ACA will actually lead to better coverage for their employees.

“I actually applaud some of the delays,” says Matis, explaining that it’s better to get it right before imposing the change on business and the American public. He says the delays give the public more time to understand the law and, perhaps, time for the federal government to simplify things and make them more user friendly.

The Salt Lake Chamber has been working to help businesses of all sizes understand the magnitude of the upcoming changes and, more importantly, what they can do to counter the ever-increasing cost of health care. The Chamber developed the Employer’s Toolbox, a set of practical steps for business to control health care costs. You can find the toolbox here.

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