VIRGINIA BEACH - Small business owner Frank Yaconiello has been in the Volkswagen parts and service business since 1982. He owns the Bughouse in Virginia Beach and what really bugs him is the high cost of health insurance. He's never provided it for his two employees and he still won't. Now that the insurance marketplace is about to open, Yaconiello says he and his employees will go to the marketplace as individuals.
"You have fears of will it at least be as good as what I have now," says Yaconiello.
As a small business owner with fewer than 25 employees making an average of about $50,000 a year or less, he qualifies for a 50 percent tax credit for two years.
TFA Benefits president Richard Herzberg says it's an incentive to get businesses to provide healthcare for employees, but the plan options initially will be very limited.
"I would recommend that any employer looking at actually doing that wait 'til next year when they're going to have the ability to have more than one plan. Save your tax credit," Herzberg suggests.
Thursday, the Obama Administration said the small-business health exchanges run by the federal government will not open for online enrollment until November 1. But applicants may still enroll by phone, mail or fax beginning Oct. 1.
Yaconiello is just one of the thousands of business owners in Virginia doing a balancing act to see how the new law will affect the bottom line.
Chuck Hall is the executive director of the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board. He has 1,000 employees and is working out the best way to keep them covered. He says he feels the CSB will always provide coverage for full-time employees but may not always carry their spouses. He doesn't blame that on the Affordable Care Act.
"The employer is looking at increasing healthcare costs--totally not associated with the Affordable Care Act."
Hall adds that some employers are cutting back hours on part-timers to under 30 hours a week to avoid a mandate requiring them to provide coverage for anyone working 30 or more hours. The Obama administration has delayed that mandate for a year.
Linda Stokes says her Norfolk employer keeps her at 25 hours a week and she looks forward to going on the marketplace as an individual. Currently, she has no insurance.
"My last coverage was about $800 a month. There's no way I can afford that now," she says.
She's expecting to qualify for a subsidy on the marketplace that will help pay for a plan.
TFA Benefits Senior Vice President Stacy Viles explains why part-time workers losing hours won't always be a bad thing.
"In some cases, it can be a good thing for the employee. You just give up an hour a week and that results in a $600 deduction in your income for the year, but you're going to save $10,000 getting insurance on the exchange because of that," she says.
The 13News Now special report Health Reform: The Bottom Line airs tonight at 7:00 p.m. Click here to chat with our panel of experts from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.