Health Team

NC businesses plan for 2015 health insurance mandate

Posted January 13

— The federal mandate that requires businesses with at least 50 employees to provide health coverage or pay a penalty doesn't take effect until next year, but North Carolina businesses are already planning for it.

Brooke Wilson and her husband own seven franchise locations for the Two Men and a Truck moving business. Each is run independently, but because they are under common ownership, they are lumped together under the Affordable Care Act, meaning the Wilsons will have to provide the 200 or so workers with health coverage.

The company already provides insurance to employees, picking up half of the cost, but less than a third of them participate, Brooke Wilson said. She said she expects that will soon jump to close to full participation because of the federal health care law.

"We anticipate our costs to be increased about $250,000 to $275,000 a year," she said, noting employees also could see their premiums go up by about 25 percent.

"Unfortunately, it's going to limit our ability to expand the business. We may not be able to add as many trucks to our fleet, not be able to open another location," she said.

Brooke Wilson said the company has no plans to drop coverage for its employees, however.

"Our employee culture is very important to us, so cutting wages, cutting employees, is not an option for us," she said.

She said she is talking to members of North Carolina's congressional delegation about how to lessen the health care burden on businesses. One solution she's proposed would reduce workers' compensation coverage because health insurance could now cover medical expenses.

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