Introductory Health Care Resources for Restaurateurs

Many restaurant owners are scared of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act. They are confused by the rules. They are angry at the expense. They are fearful about how it may affect their business.

We are not experts on the health care law and small business. The information, whether in this article or on the following websites, is not advice on what to do nor is it an endorsement of the accuracy of any of the information. But we wanted to set you up with some preliminary readings (from traditionally reliable sources) so you know some basics. But you should do whatever possible to verify any information.

Knowing what to expect is always a good idea, especially for restaurant owners who are always pressed for time. Even though much of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in 2014, a restaurant owner should to start to get ready as soon as possible for the law because everything does not start in 2014 and taking the right preparations will make an easier transition.

Please consult with officials, experts, accountants, tax professionals and/or lawyers to make sure you get it right for your particular restaurant. This is all the more important if you have any doubts or do not believe you grasp what to do. But here are some introductory resources and short descriptions of what you will find:

Official United States Government Website for Health Care Law
You will find here the full law, the Affordable Care Act. You may not understand the legal writing, so you may need legal assistance. You can also find the federal government’s summary, a timeline of implementation, and information for specific parties (like individuals, businesses, etc.). From this site, you can find state by state explanations.
http://www.healthcare.gov/law/index.html

United States Government Fact Sheet
The government also gives brief explanations to different groups in factsheet format. Here is the factsheet for small businesses. This can be the foundation of your knowledge, but should take into account more authoritative resources (like experts and the actual law). The factsheet may leave out important details from the actual law.
http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2011/08/small-business.html

National Restaurant Association Resources on Health Care (non-government)
The National Restaurant Association or NRA is the main organization for the restaurant industry. They serve as the main lobbying force for restaurants in Washington D.C. and fight for the interests of restaurants and restaurant owners. Remember this is not the federal government so you should confirm any conclusions you may make, before you act.
http://healthcare.restaurant.org/

Articles and Webinars from NRA’s website
The NRA compiled resources for restaurant owners that introduce restaurant owners to the law and what the effects may be. The NRA runs a blog which frequently discusses health care. Also, they provide additional guidance for restaurant owners through webinars (for member only).
http://www.restaurant.org/nra_news_blog/2012/06/health-care-law-compliance-moves-forward.cfm
http://www.restaurant.org/events/webinars/

From Journalist Sources
This recent article from QSR Magazine goes over some of the responses from restaurant owners and also some of the likely consequences. It is a newspaper article and should not be used as anything other than a tool of what some people think you should expect. One thing is for certain is to start on the process of evaluating how the Affordable Care Act relates to your restaurant.
http://www.qsrmagazine.com/exclusives/what-s-next-health-care

Public Relations Aspects
Recently, some major chain restaurant CEOs went on the record in criticising the new health care law. It seem like it has had negative public relations consequences, although if they are permanent time will tell. Obviously, everyone can express their opinions, but drawing attention to how you handle the new law may not be a good idea, especially there is not a clear way as to how voicing one’s opinion will change the law. So protect your brand. Here is a better analysis:
http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2012/12/04/Fast-Food-Obamacare-120412.aspx

What Other Restaurant Owners are Saying
I included this article because it shows a problem solving approach. We do not agree nor disagreed with any strategy or action from this article, only the owners’ attitude. He seems to be thinking rationally and trying hard not to alienate his customers or employees. It does not matter if he likes the law, only that his comments/actions are clearly made when considering the best interests of his business. They may be wrong decisions and they may be right decisions. Whatever he does is much more likely to work as he is concerned with all aspects of his business. It also reminds you that you are not alone in struggling to figure out how to address the health care law.
http://money.msn.com/now/post.aspx?post=fe512da1-cf07-4df5-94cb-2541f5ea4448

Below is another article that shows how many owners will be grappling with the health care law (and perhaps the additional costs).
http://www.tlnt.com/2012/08/09/cost-of-health-care-reform-60-of-businesses-expect-an-increase/

We hope this helps. Of course, we can not endorse any of these resources. We cannot offer you any recommendations on how to deal with the Affordable Care Act other than telling you to get informed, seek appropriate expert help (including legal) and prepare for its implementation. But perhaps, these resources will help you get started in this process.