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The New Healthcare Bill and Restaurants: What Owners Need to Know

Change is intimidating, and restaurant owners are sure feeling that intimidation. With the recent passage of a nearly 2,000-page healthcare reform bill, companies across the country are frantically trying to figure out just how they will be affected. Restaurants are holding off on hiring and even making plans to cut-down in anticipation of the bill going into affect. Before your blood pressure starts rising, however, it’s important to note that your restaurant will not be affected if has less than 50 full-time employees. With a majority of restaurants in the country falling under that category, that should put most owners at ease. However, for the rest of you, there are a few things you need to know.

            First of all, you don’t have to be in any rush to get the ball rolling quite yet. Restaurant owners will not be penalized for not offering healthcare to their full-time employees numbering 50-99 until 2016. This gives employers an extra year than originally planned to figure out all the rules and determine if they reach that 50 full-timers mark. However, don’t count on any further extensions, as the white house has stated that this is the absolute final date for companies to have their healthcare in order.

            As far as the actual legislation goes, it’s time to start counting your full-time employees. If you have less than 50 and don’t plan on adding to that number any time soon, the majority of this bill won’t affect your business. If you have more than 50, you must offer health insurance to your full-time employees or pay a $2000 fee for each one of those employees. Businesses that do decide to help their employees with coverage will be eligible for a 35 percent tax credit, according to the bill. Before you take the fee route, you may want to a little accounting to see how exactly your numbers will add up.

            If you are an owner of a chain restaurant, healthcare isn’t the only thing you need to think about. Any restaurant with 20 or more stores will be required to include calorie information for regular menu items. While some restaurants feel that this provision unfairly hurts their business, others hope that it will encourage restaurant chains to work harder to keep their items as healthful as possible. In addition to the calorie counts, the legislation also wants restaurants to be able to produce information regarding daily calorie intake and other information regarding nutritional data if requested. Although this provision isn’t as taxing, it is still important to take note that healthcare isn’t the only thing covered in this legislation.

            This is just a brief rundown of what owners should expect in the coming years regarding healthcare and their business. To get a full handle on how your business will be affected and to get started on the process, contact a professional to help you get ready for the coming years.

Billy Giordano is the owner and operator of one of the best restaurants in Columbia, MO, Room 38 Restaurant & Lounge.

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