What ObamaCare Means for Workplace Health

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With reports of companies (particularly restaurant/fast food chains) cutting their workers’ hours so as to avoid ObamaCare—otherwise known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—one has to wonder what the benefits and downsides of the new healthcare plan are. Most provisions in the new plan are set to roll out in January 2014, which will arrive in a flash.

According to an article published in our September 2013 issue entitled, “Increasing Employee Participation in Corporate Wellness Programs,” author Barb Hendrickson addressed some of the aspects of the PPACA that will affect the workplace the most.  

Some of the most important workplace provisions, according to Hendrickson, include “start-up grants for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, resources for evaluating employer wellness programs, and expert aid for employers to develop and expand workplace wellness activities, such as tobacco-free policies, flextime for physical activity, and healthier food choices in the workplace.”

In addition to these provisions, Hendrickson mentioned that the plan will also cover health promotion-related provisions and would allow employers to offer employees a 30% discount for positive lifestyle practices, as opposed to the current 20%. Another provision is that companies that offer comprehensive wellness programs can enjoy a 50% tax credit.

Another workplace effect of the PPACA, according to Hendrickson, is the Legislative Awareness campaign—launched by the Incentive Federation—which has been lobbying to increase awareness of the benefits incentives programs. George Delta from the Incentive Federation stated the law “advocates universal coverage but doesn't do much to address costs.” He and his organization believe addressing cost will give the companies the push they need to implement an incentives program.

According to another article from our blog, if companies with 50+ employees do not implement the establish criteria for PPACA, they could be struck with serious fines. Based on the established criteria, in January 2014 companies have to provide coverage to all its full-time employees, or a similar equivalent. Some companies, such as Wendy’s and Darden Restaurants—are cutting their employees hours to 27 or 28 hours a week to skirt around this mandate, which could end up hurting more people than benefitting them.

Posted by Jamie Friedlander on Sep 25, 2013


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