SIOUX FALLS, SD -
While the Health Insurance Marketplace opened for enrollment this week, businesses are still trying to figure out how to comply with the Affordable Health Care Act. The Play or Pay Mandate means that businesses with 50 employees or more must provide affordable health insurance or pay a fine.
Dakota King owns 35 Burger King Restaurants in the region, employing more than 2,000 people. Many of these workers are strictly part-time. But anyone who works on average 30 hours or more is now covered by the Pay or Play Mandate--meaning Dakota King must provide them with affordable insurance or pay a fine.
“We want to provide the best benefits we can to our people and keep attracting quality team members,” Dakota King President Tom Walsh Jr. said.
Walsh’s company has been working for a year and a half to figure out what it needs to do to comply with the law.
"It is going to be a financial hit. We could see anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 a restaurant,” Walsh said.
Walsh says his company will provide insurance for full-time employees, but he says many in the food industry are looking for ways around it.
"The majority of the food business, from what we're seeing, reading, hearing is that they're going to cut down on hours to get under the 30 hours and there's a lot of people who have already done that; who've been working on it in the last year," Walsh said.
Walsh says just complying with the law, once it is in full effect in 2015, will be tough in itself.
“The paper work and due diligence going forward; we’re probably going to have to hire someone just to take care of health care,” Walsh said.
And while he may be required to make health insurance affordable to his employees, Walsh says it's not affordable for business.
"The sad part is this is supposed to be affordable for everyone and we're seeing 15 to 20 percent increases. They're saying our premiums should go down and that isn't the case. They're going the other way,” Walsh said.
The National Franchise Association is lobbying on Capitol Hill to try to change the Play or Pay mandate so that all business with over 50 employees aren't treated exactly the same. Walsh would like to see adjustments made depending on how much companies earn.
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