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Utah Small Business Owners Brace for Healthcare Reform

Andrea Smardon

Small business owners convened at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake on Tuesday to learn about the Affordable Care Act and significant changes coming in health care. The Salt Lake Chamber along with insurance company SelectHealth released a survey revealing that the Affordable Care Act is perceived negatively by a majority of businesses, but that many of those businesses are also uninformed about the requirements of the law.

Ask small business owners how they will be affected by the Affordable Care Act… and you get answers like this…

“I feel like I don’t know anything about it to be honest with you, but I don’t know if really anyone knows anything about it,” says Sheridan Mordue, owner of a local clothing boutique Hip and Humble. In a survey of Salt Lake Chamber members conducted by SelectHealth, more than 80 percent of small business owners admitted they were uninformed about the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Greg Matis is senior counsel for SelectHealth.

“Small employers have a lot of new choices, a lot of new options under the law, they have a lot of provisions which affect them, but they don’t have a lot of resources at their disposal to help them understand it and help them respond to it,” says Matis.

And though they may not know a whole lot about it, 75 percent of businesses are either ambivalent or opposed to the ACA. Many think it will increase the amount they would pay to cover their employees. But that’s not true for every small business. Sheridan Mordue for example will qualify for a tax break next year. It’s an incentive provided under the ACA designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance to their employees. Mordue made the calculations, and decided to start offering her 12 employees health insurance one year ago.

“It’s really expensive for a small business to offer that, but with the tax credit, it was more than half of what I’m paying out. So for me, it was kind of an incentive to go forward with the idea,” said Mordue.

Shawn Nordhoff’s company Industrial Piping Products has provided health insurance to employees for more than two decades. He’s been trying to figure out if he should stay with a group plan for his 25 employees, or take advantage of some new options provided by the health insurance exchanges coming online October 1st.

“If we can bring our costs down and offer the same benefits to our employees, we want to be able to do that,” says Norhoff.

Nordhoff says in spite of all the good information provided at the summit, he still hasn’t seen the rates to make a comparison, and that’s what he needs to make an informed choice. In the meantime, Greg Matis recommends using as a resource for information, and Utah’s small business exchange

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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