Raleigh, N.C. — After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the government could require people to buy health insurance, business owners are trying to sort out what the decision means for them.
Under the so-called individual mandate, an estimated 30 million uninsured people in the U.S. will be required to buy health coverage by 2014 or face a financial penalty. Businesses with more than 50 employees will be required to offer insurance, but experts say those with fewer workers will be affected as well.
Mark Friedman, chief operating officer of UAI Technology Inc., which advises small businesses on health and retirement plans, said Friday that very small operations could face a harder time finding workers because they will be competing with more firms that provide health coverage.
"It's such a complex act that there's really a different impact to different businesses, depending on what their own circumstances are," Friedman said.
Eva Soliman, the owner of Manhattan Café in downtown Raleigh, said she finds the myriad provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a bit overwhelming.
"It's mind-boggling to me. I'm a little confused on it, to be quite honest," Soliman said.
She said she wants to take care of her 10 employees, but there's only so much she can do. Right now, health insurance for them isn't an option, she said.
"You're doing it for the passion of the business. You're not doing it to be huge like McDonald's, per se, where you're franchising and you're just known all over the world," she said. "It's more personal when you have a small business."
The state Department of Insurance has set up a website for people who have questions about their rights and responsibilities regarding health insurance. People can also call the department toll-free at 877-885-0231.