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What Do Solos Need to Do to Prepare for Obamacare?

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By William Peacock, Esq. on September 26, 2013 11:11 AM

You'd think, being a solo practitioner, that you wouldn't have to do anything to prepare for the upcoming Obamacare deadlines.

Think again.

Though your mandated duties, per the Affordable Care Act, are minimal as a small business/sole practitioner, there are a few things you need to do in the near future in order to avoid penalties and taxes.

Understanding ObamacareBy October 1: Mail 'Obamacare Letters' to Staff

You may be the only attorney in the office, but if you have support staff and revenue of $500,000 or more, you will have to comply with this minor requirement. An easy way to comply is to use the Department of Labor's templates, or create your own substantially similar version. There is a different model notice for those who provide insurance and those who don't.

For existing employees, the notices must be mailed out by Oct. 1. Any new hires must be given a copy of the letter within 14 days of their start date.

After October 1: Get Insurance on the Exchange, If Needed

If you don't already have coverage, you might consider doing so in the next three months. The Obamacare insurance exchanges are set to begin enrolling individuals in health plans as of October 1, and the penalty for not having insurance becomes effective in 2014.

If you're struggling to cover your bills, note that the penalty for 2014 is the higher of $95 per person and dependent, or 1 percent of your taxable income, reports Forbes. For 2015, it jumps to $325 or 2 percent; and in 2016, it becomes $695 or 2.5 percent. You might want to do a rough estimate of the cost of the penalty versus the cost of the insurance premiums before making your decision.

By 2015: Consider Providing Insurance to Employees, Even If Not Required

The employer mandate, which only applies to those with 50 or more employees, will take effect in 2015. Unless you have an army of full-time paralegals, this should have no impact on you, except for the tax breaks.

According to KPBS, depending on your employee's salary and the cost of the insurance, you may be able to deduct a large portion of the premiums, so long as you pay at least half, from your taxes. You get a tax break and a carrot to attract better employees.

One final note: As the law continues to be debated in our nation's capital, and mandates keep getting pushed back, and battles rage on in the courts, we'd advise you to keep an eye on our blogs over the next few months, just in case something changes. Either way, make sure you get those letters out by Tuesday!

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