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Working With the New Healthcare Regime … and More of Your Questions for January

Plus, the safest language to use in an appraisal when you disagree with a diamond’s grading report.

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Tell us what to do about Obamacare!

A question this tough could be answered only by our Brain Squad, although after sifting through their responses, our conclusion is: Move to Canada (universal healthcare for $70 a month). South of the border, about half of the 100-odd jewelry-store owners who told us about their experiences with the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges said they had seen their healthcare bills cut, while half said they had taken a financial hit. Christi Weaver, owner of The Polished Edge in Kansas City, MO, said her payments had fallen from $700-800 a month for a health savings account (HSA) to $50 a month for full coverage, while prescription costs for everyday medicines were about a half less. “Love it!” she said.

Mark Clodius, co-owner of Clodius & Co. Jewelers in Rockford, IL, said that in recent years he’d watched his rates rise from $600 to $3,400 a month, but as a result of the ACA was now paying $840 a month. “This has made a huge difference to our family/business,” he said. Brian McCall, owner of Midwest Jewelers and Estate Buyers in Zionsville, IN, has seen similar savings: “It’s going to save me about $2K a month and my employees are going to end up with better insurance. And I’m a Republican. Go figure!”

Other jewelers had far less positive tales to tell. Marc Altman, owner of B & E Jewelers in Southampton, PA, said his premiums had increased 35.5 percent due to the startup of Obamacare. Don Bullock, of Bullock’s Jewelry in Roswell, NM, said the law had caused havoc with his store’s healthcare plan: “We have always paid 75 percent of our employees’ health insurance. We were forced out of the policy we had for 10 years and now are paying 30-percent-plus more for the same coverage. Individual policies would have been less than the group rates but we found that we cannot deduct the expense if we help pay for it.” Alex Cassulo, owner of Kimberly’s Jewelers in Fort Walton Beach, FL, took umbrage with the law’s name. “Hate it. Who said $700 a month was affordable?”

The range of responses from our Brain Squad members reflects the many variables at play — your state, the size of your business, your current healthcare plans — making it difficult to provide blanket advice. We would, however, recommend investing the time to truly study the options. The current enrollment period, which runs until April, features the startup of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) that promises to allow employers to buy tailored insurance plans for staff. If you find the exchanges too confusing to navigate, hire a broker to help.

Also, keep these factors in mind:

• There are significant tax considerations. Be sure to discuss them with your CPA.

• While most small businesses (fewer than 25 full-time employees) don’t have to worry about the penalties that apply to their larger corporate brothers, as an employer, you still have obligations under ACA. .

What’s the safest language to use in an appraisal of a diamond when you disagree with its grading report?

If there was a hot button issue of our times, this might just be it. David Atlas, who is the chair of Ethical Issues at the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, recommends the following:

When you have mixed feelings about total agreement:

The appraiser has examined the diamond and finds the gemological report provided is within a grade of our opinion of GIA grading on color and/or clarity.

When you disagree a bit more strongly, but still see some validity in the report:

The valuation is based on our opinion of the GIA grading of the stone in question.

When you have a stronger disagreement with the report, say:
We have examined the diamond and the diamond report accompanying the item and find our grading by GIA standards is as follows …
A. “Our valuation is made based on the supplied report and the typical discount in pricing when a non-GIA report accompanies a diamond.”

Or:

B. “Our valuation is made based on our grading and understanding of the GIA grading system.”

If you have the industry credentials, Atlas urges that you do your own grading and have confidence in your professional abilities.

Finally, don’t take sides. “Don’t be an advocate for the client or the seller — that’s not your role,” Atlas told a recent NAJA conference. “It would be better to help them understand how to improve their future buying than to bail them out of some problem they helped to create.”

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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