Drive Your Business Despite Obamacare: Six Steps to Avoid the Pileups.
It seems every decade a new “roadside accident” appears to distract you from driving your business down your highway. In the 1990’s it was Y2K, in the 2000’s it was Sarbanes-Oxley. Now, with the help of our government, lawyers, accountants and healthcare experts, Obamacare will be the epic 500-car pileup of the century. Make no mistake; I am not challenging the merits of universal healthcare; just the burden it will place on business owners everywhere.
After attending three healthcare briefings, I am convinced that in addition to the added costs of conforming to the thousands of requirements, Obamacare will require you, as a business owner, to spend time you don’t have, become expert in handling confidential employee health issues you’d rather avoid, and could cost you as much in fees as actually paying for increasing health care benefits.
Or does it have to? Here are six steps you should take to minimize your impact, leverage your predicament, or even exploit the opportunity that Obamacare places on your business.
By now, you’re seeing the impact that Obamacare will have on your choices, costs, and even the type of health benefits you must and can offer. Will you choose to pay the added price tag to your employees in salary, or to companies in premiums, or to the government in penalties? Have you budgeted for your time? For the impact your choices will have on your HR and talent management strategy? Which service providers will you have to hire and trust not just to advise you on the right health care choices but to leverage the impact these choices will have on your overall business strategy? For example:
* How will your workforce change based on what you offer your employees versus what their spouses need and obtain at their place of work?
* If you choose to buy your way out of Obamacare at a cost of $2000 per employee per year, will your workforce become younger and less experienced?
* Will you need to hire a VP of HR instead of relying on your CFO or office manager who is hard-pressed to handle benefits as they are today?
By this point you’re probably thinking up your own list of how Obamacare will change your business. Well, you can either look at your glass as half-empty or half-full. Here are six steps to confront the impact of Obamacare head-on:
1. Revisit your strategic growth plan and look at it from the perspective of how your business relies on its key players, the entire workforce and how your business fundamentally relies on people to get its work done.
How will these three factors change and what does it mean for your businesses success and your ownership plans?
2. Factor in your organization’s Best and Highest Use®. Will your company’s people continue to deliver on what it is good at doing, likes doing, and is valued by your customers and the marketplace for doing? Your firm’s investment in providing personal service will likely increase and you will need to ask your customers to pay more for it.
3. Fundamentally choose whether your company will or won’t be a net benefits provider. Family-friendly companies may want to offer full Obamacare while other companies might pay the higher wages but choose to opt out. Obamacare will impact these decisions more than you may first imagine.
4. Take a hard look at where you as the leader spend your time and energy. Imagine spending more days to reconcile the demands by:
• Meeting with your outside healthcare advisers and providers,
• Making hard decisions in terms of the above three points,
• Communicating the complexities of your decisions to employees who know less and fear more than you do, and
• Building your firm’s internal capability to oversee your Obamacare health benefit plan so it helps your employees and meets your goals.
5. Meet with and ask very hard questions of your existing health benefits providers and advisors. How are they going to step up and meet your challenges as expressed above? In my brief exposure to date, I am very concerned as to how stretched your insurance brokers, benefit providers, and financial experts are going to be as they attempt to meet the demands of their clients. Beyond the revenues they will earn, I question whether they have sufficient staffing or business plans to meet the needs of their clients themselves.
6. Finally, please accept that you and your business can only focus so much on Obamacare. Beyond your employees, you need to refocus on serving your customers, ensuring your operations are delivering and that your administration continues purchasing smart and collecting receivables. Remember, your vendors and your customers will be going through the same pain and suffering in implementing Obamacare as are you.
In the middle of WWII, President Roosevelt created Social Security and health care benefits to incent military spouses to go to work and become the “Rosie the Riveters” who ran our wartime factories. In doing so, Pres. Roosevelt also forced business owners to become healthcare experts; a job no entrepreneur ever sought. Pres. Obama has not just brought universal healthcare and its benefits to the many who need them, but has created the mechanism and requirement to socially engineer all businesses. So, to quote Bette Davis in “All About Eve”, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Remember this as you drive your company forward down your highway; make sure it’s running well and keep your eyes on the road to avoid the pileups, traffic jams, and detours that are coming.