Affordable Care Act and Your Business
With the Affordable Care Act becoming fully implemented over the next couple years, we want to make sure that your business is ready when each new provision of the law takes effect. Below, see the dates of the new policies, and tips for what your business can do during this transitional period.
October 2013 - Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace Begins
If you’re a small business owner, you’ll be able to offer your employees new health plan choices through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Starting in October, you’ll be able to get information about all the plans available in your area. You and your employees will be able to enroll through your broker, directly through the website, or by calling a toll-free phone hotline.
Below are 7 tips for small businesses:
1. Make sure you understand how insurance works.
For example, you’ll want to understand the difference between premiums and out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and copayments. You’ll want to compare these details to help determine which plans are right for you and your employees. Visit Understanding Insurance to learn more about how insurance works.
2. Learn about different types of health insurance.
Through the Marketplace, you’ll be able to choose a level of coverage that gives you and your employees the right balance of cost and benefits.
3. Start thinking about when to begin coverage.
You’ll need to choose a month to start coverage. Consider what timing would work best for you and your employees.
4. Set your budget.
Think about how much money you’re able to spend for group coverage. You’ll also need to consider how much your employees can spend for their coverage.
5. Get organized.
You’ll want to have basic information about your business organized and available, like a list of employees you plan to cover and your tax ID number.
6. Make a list of questions you have before it’s time to choose which health plans you’ll offer.
Consider what’s most important for your budget and your employees.
7. Look for help.
If you already use a health insurance agent or broker, they’ll be able to help you figure out your options. Brokers sell many different insurance products and are usually paid by insurance companies. Agents work for just one insurance company.
January 2014 - Establishing the Health Insurance Marketplace
Individuals and small businesses can buy affordable and qualified health benefit plans in this new transparent and competitive insurance marketplace. The Marketplace will offer you a choice of health plans that meet certain benefits and cost standards. Starting in 2014, the Marketplace will allow individuals and small businesses to compare health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for tax credits for private insurance or health programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in a health plan that meets their needs.
January 2014 – Beginning of Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)
Some basics about SHOP:
You control the coverage you offer
You choose the level of coverage you’ll offer, and define how much you’ll contribute towards your employees’ coverage.
Access to tax benefits
You’ll also have exclusive access to an expanded Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit. This tax credit covers as much as 50% of the employer contribution toward premium costs for eligible employers who have low- to moderate-wage workers.
When you get insurance through the SHOP, it makes it easy for you take advantage of other tax breaks too including the chance for you and your employees to use pre-tax dollars to make your premium payments.
New consumer protections
You and your employees will also benefit from new protections that help you get real value for your premium dollars. There are new limits on the higher premiums insurers can charge businesses with older employees, and an employee with high health care costs no longer increases your group’s premium. There are also new limits on the share of premiums going to insurers’ profits and administrative costs.
Insurance plans run by private companies
The health insurance plans available in the SHOP will be run by private health insurance companies, the same way small group plans are run now. All plans will offer the same benefits as a “typical” employer plan, including real protection against financial catastrophe.
Plans will present their cost and coverage information in a standard format, using plain language that’s clear and easy for you to understand. You and your employees will be able to easily compare plans based on price, coverage, quality and other features that are important to you.
Use your broker, or shop on your own
You can use your existing insurance broker to access the SHOP, or you can shop for plans yourself, without a broker. You can review pricing and coverage in apples-to-apples comparisons, complete a single application, and choose the level of coverage that works for your budget, your business, and your employees.