EatDenver hosting an Affordable Care Act forum for service industry employees

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Back in October of last year, Don Fox, the CEO of Firehouse Subs, a national chain with thirteen outpost in the metro Denver area, had this to say about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). "October 1st will be a watershed moment," wrote Fox in Forbes magazine. "On that day, the Affordable Care Act's 'Health Insurance Exchanges' will go into effect, and every working American will be informed by their employer what options they have regarding health insurance."

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Leigh Jones and her business partner, Margaret Moore, the two of whom own Jonesy's EatBar, Horseshoe Lounge and the Bar Car, are just two Denver restaurateurs trying to determine whether the ACA is beneficial to their staff, which numbers fewer than fifty full-time employees (a full-time employee is any employee who works an average of thirty hours or more per week). Because that number falls below the threshold, they aren't required to offer affordable healthcare plans to their employees.

Still, they explored the option. "Once we got through the holidays, Margaret and I sat down to talk about whether we could offer health insurance to our employees, even though we don't have to, and we asked ourselves: 'Can we afford it?' 'If not, is this something that we can offer down the line?',"recalls Jones. "We have a great employee retention rate already, but we knew that by offering healthcare to our employees, it would likely make that retention rate even better, and we were pleasantly surprised by how affordable Obamacare really was."

Be that as it may, Jones says she soon learned that "It was still cheaper for our employees to go straight to the marketplace and purchase their own insurance, mostly because our employees are young and healthy and receive government subsidiaries." And that, notes Jones, led to the consensus that the ACA was "working the way it's meant to work for individuals and businesses."

Nonetheless, the ACA is still a puzzle for both employers and employees, so to break down the issues in a way that makes sense, EatDenver, Denver's network of independent restaurants, of which Jones is president, is sponsoring what Jones calls an "educational forum and conversation geared toward service industry workers who work for independent establishments that don't provide insurance."

The presentation, which will be held between 2 and 4 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22 at Curious Theatre, 1080 Acoma Street, will be hosted by Emily Dewey of the Small Business Majority, and anyone who works in the service industry is encouraged to attend. "We want to be a source of information for those who work in independent restaurants and bars, and for anyone wanting to explore individual health coverage, this will be a great overview of the Affordable Care Act," says Jones.

Topics include:

- Connect for Health marketplace in Colorado: how it works and how it affects you - Overview of the new tax credits and cost-sharing reductions to help make coverage more affordable - Detailed questions and answers on enrollment procedures - Creating a health insurance budget and nailing down a target date to start coverage

A question and answer session will follow the presentation, and enrollment assistance and follow-up appointments will be available, as well. "They'll walk you through the entire system and make you aware of all of your options," says Jones.

No RSVP is necessary, but EatDenver expects a large turnout, so get there early.

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