The Affordable Care Act impacts small businesses in Old Town

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By Victoria Bowles

Old Town Lansing Times staff writer

OLD TOWN LANSING — As the Affordable Care Act continues to evolve, local small business consider the benefits of implementing health care plans.

The Affordable Care Act does not penalize businesses with 50 or fewer employees for not providing health coverage, according to HealthCare.gov. The goal is to give small businesses more affordable coverage options and tax credits, so more people have access to health insurance plans.

Although many business owners in Old Town are aware of the new law’s possibilities, some said the benefits of health insurance cannot outweigh the cost because of limited staffing numbers.

Craig Mitchell Smith Glass employs three full-time staff members and does not currently provide health insurance, but there is a possibility for this change in the future, said owner Craig Mitchell Smith.

“As the business grows, so does its responsibilities,” said Smith.

Craig Mitchell Smith Glass (photo by Victoria Bowles)

Craig Mitchell Smith Glass (photo by Victoria Bowles)

The Micro Business Model

Along with not penalizing businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees, the Affordable Care Act also provides tax breaks to businesses with 25 or less employees, according to HealthCare.gov.

Business owners like Sean Johnson, owner of Meat Southern BBQ and Carnivore Cuisine, still are not taking advantage of this option. The mom and pop BBQ joint only employs one full-time employee who already receives health insurance from Veterans Affairs, said Johnson.

“I have one full-time and 15 part-time employees,” said Johnson. “I don’t fit into that equation.”

With the extremely small amount of staff in some of Old Town’s businesses, an even smaller criteria may need to be implemented to accommodate them.

“They need to look at the differences between small businesses and micro businesses,” said Randy Umfleet, owner of Whipped Bakery.

Whipped Bakery has always operated with a part-time staff, said Umfleet.

“I have just moved to Old Town so we will see what happens in the future, but with the size of my business the Affordable Care Act could work against me,” Umfleet said.

Costumers inside Whipped Bakery (photo by Victoria Bowles)

Costumers inside Whipped Bakery (photo by Victoria Bowles)

Staying Small

Despite many business owners looking into the benefits and limitations of the Affordable Care Act, some are content with their current situation.

“We have been operating with the same amount of employees for the past ten years,” said Julie Howe, co-owner of Pace Howe Design. “We are small and would like to stay small.”

The Pace Howe staff includes two full-time employees, who are also owners, and a part-time intern. Both owners currently have access to health insurance from their spouse and do not see a reason to consider different options, said Howe.

For more information contact Victoria Bowles, bowlesvi@gmail.com,

(810) 429-1079

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