Health Care & HVAC Contractors

July 1, 2012
Health care is the hottest of hot potatoes in this politically charged election year. What are your thoughts on it?

Health care is the hottest of hot potatoes in this politically charged election year. The Obama administration’s health care law has been the focus of debates since first signed into law in 2010, and even more so now that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it as being constitutional. In fact, according to Chief Justice John Roberts, the penalty associated with NOT having health care insurance is to be considered a tax. Really?

“The ruling seems to circumvent the original issue of whether it’s proper under Congress’s constitutional right to regulate commerce among states,” says a Wall Street Journal article published on July 2nd (GOP’s New Health-Law Front,

Don’t get me wrong — I‘m all for making sure Americans get the health care they need, but I’ve felt all along that forcing people to buy health care insurance, even if it’s high quality insurance (that remains to be seen) that’s affordable (also remains to be seen) begs the question of how all this actually gets paid for. The answer to that still seems to be in the smoke and mirrors of a national debt that’s so far beyond comprehension, it’s funny. To the point of tears.

But is anyone talking about the impact on small business owners of a law that mandates health care to all Americans — small business owners such as HVACR contractors? Sure, but such discussions seem buried in all the political rhetoric and noise.

From my perspective, HVACR contractors should now be concerned with what this law will cost them. What real options do you have for controlling those costs? Contractors such as Stan Johnson, owner of Stan’s Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., Austin, TX say the law creates a “European-style welfare state system that does’t work in Europe and won’t work here either. It will lower the standard of care in this country for everybody that had health care.”

Johnson wrote this in response to a very clear summary of the impact of the Supreme Court ruling in a blog written by The Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s (ACCA) vice president for government relations, Charlie McCrudden (

Johnson also said, “Which future generation will realize the disaster that has been visited upon them by a past generation that elected governments that believed the government had to control our lives and distribute our resources to the point that there was no longer any incentive to work harder, to grow, to prosper and to advance as a country . . . to lead the world. The lesson of history is clear; we have failed to learn the lessons of history.”

If things aren’t complicated enough, Republicans plan a renewed effort to get the law repealed based on a loophole in a Senate rule with regard to legislation that is tax-based.

There will be a phase-in for this law over time, and for HVAC contractors employing less than 50 employees, nothing changes right away. But that doesn’t mean you should stick your head in the sand and ignore things, because as early as 2014 the impact on individuals kicks in.

One provision of the mandate requires individuals to get health care insurance coverage from their employer or a federal program or one of the state health care exchanges (

According to law, if they don’t they will be assessed a penalty (tax). In 2014 the penalty tax is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (up to $285 per family) or 1% of the household income — whichever is greater. The penalty increases in 2015 and for the years 2016 and beyond.

Again, I am not against finding ways to make sure Americans have the medical coverage they need to stay healthy — I’m just not so sure how good this law is in the long run. It opens the door for federal involvement in personal issues more than ever before. Where does this end? It might have been better to attack this issue from an insurance and torte reform standpoint.

What do you think about this topic and its impact on your business? Drop me a note, message me on Facebook at, or Tweet your comments to @ContractingBiz.