When Does a New Health Care Law Affect Small Businesses?

When the government changes health care policy, it impacts the entire country — especially small businesses. So just how long do business owners have to react and plan? To give you an idea of what to expect, we covered the process of creating a new health care law as well as the results of recent health care changes.

Passing a New Health Care Law

It’s a lengthy process to pass any law. First, members of government will draft a bill. Then, the House of Representatives must vote to approve the bill. From there, it goes to the Senate, which also must vote to pass the bill. During this time, the Senate might make changes which need to be approved by the House to finalize the law. If both chambers vote to pass the final version of the bill, it goes to the President who needs to sign it into law.

The whole process can take months and even years, which gives time for business owners to start planning for how the new policy will affect them. Depending on the law, there can also be a delay between when the bill is passed and when the laws start affecting businesses.

Affordable Care Act and Small Business

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the biggest change to the American health care system since the launch of Medicare. When the last administration designed this law, they knew it would take time to adjust so they established a long gap between passing the law and when it started to affect small businesses.

Obama signed the bill into law in March 2010, but many requirements didn’t kick in until much later. According to Obamacare Facts, the employer mandate requiring business owners to cover their employees didn’t actually launch until 2015 or 2016 depending on how many employees a business had. Business owners had five to six years to start preparing for the change.

2017 Health Care Bills

Throughout 2017, the Republicans tried to pass several bills to amend or replace the ACA. None of them passed Congress but they gave business owners an idea of how quickly a new law could affect their coverage.

The Republican bills focused more on scaling back requirements and were set to kick in more quickly. For example, the American Health Care Act looked to immediately remove the employer mandate requiring that businesses provide insurance to their employees, according to CNN.

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) required employers give employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year to deal with family or medical issues. This law passed on February 5, 1993 according to the DOL. The requirement began in August of that same year, the source notes. It kicked in more quickly than the ACA but still gave employers some time to prepare for the new requirements.

There is no exact rule for how quickly new health care policy will affect small businesses. It all depends on how the government creates the law. We will continue monitoring major political trends for health care so you have as much time to prepare, no matter how future policies are designed.

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This content is provided solely for informational purposes. It is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal, accounting, tax and/or other professional advisers.

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