Restaurateur Jimmy Hasslocher has a lot on his plate.
He's trying to figure out how to afford the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and keep his Jim's restaurants profitable.
"We wish we didn't have to deal with this, because a lot of us were providing insurance already," Hasslocher said. "This just muddies the waters."
Jim's restaurants has 1,100 employees, most of them full-time. The federal health care law requires businesses with 50 or more employees to provide access to affordable health insurance or be fined.
Hasslocher estimates between 300 and 400 of his employees who previously declined the health insurance his company offered will sign on. And that will come with a cost to his business that pays a portion of the cost for the employee.
"We're hopeful that it's not that high, but we're looking at somewhere around $1 million," he said.
That's a guess. Hasslocher won't know until September or October how much his carrier's plan will cost. He's fearing sticker shock.
"That money is going to have to come from somewhere," he said.
The San Antonio Restaurant Association has been meeting for the past 14 months, trying to get information about the law and figuring out how to afford the changes. Restaurants often have slim profit margins.
Among the options on the table include cutting operational costs, raising menu prices and hiring more part-time workers. Under Obamacare, employers do not have to provide insurance to part-time employees.
"I think you will see more part-time people in the workforce around the country," Hasslocher said.
Under the federal health care law, full-time is defined as working 30 hours or more, not the typical 40.
Some restaurants and other businesses have begun cutting hours to get below the 30-hour threshold.
Hasslocher said he's looking at possibly reducing hours for some employees who now work 32 or 34 hours down to 28.
"From an operational standpoint, it's a nightmare," he said.
He welcomes the one-year reprieve in implementing the employer mandate. But while it buys him time, he said it does not buy answers.

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