Affordable Care Act: What You Need to Know

After months of debate and squabble, the Affordable Care Act is now in place, but what does that mean for you, your business and your employees? Will it ruin your business and make you cry poverty? Will it finally be the missing link for that segment of the population who needs healthcare? The debate is still out on both of these questions, and may take months or years for it all to be sorted out. Until then, here are seven things you as a business owner need to know.

Size Matters
Depending on how many employees you employ, your need to offer healthcare to them depends on your company’s size. Businesses that employ less than fifty full-time employees do not need to offer a healthcare package. As of next year though, any business that employs more than fifty people must offer health care or they will be subject to fines. This is not a reason to cut your staff down to forty-nine employees, but if you do employ more than fifty people, you need to start shopping.

SHOP for Insurance
If you employ less than fifty employees which, according to the SBA, 96% of most small businesses do, you can take advantage of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, the SHOP Marketplace has been created to help simplify the process of picking a healthcare plan for you and your employees. There are different options and to find the one that best fits your need can be confusing. The SHOP Marketplace is designed to remove some barriers from your decision-making process.

Options
Under the new healthcare reform there are four options to choose from: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. As you can surmise, the more precious the metal it’s named after, the more costly the option is. Each plan will cover the normal healthcare needs, such as emergency services, preventive care, hospitalization and pediatric care. The difference between the four options will be defined by what employees need to contribute monthly, their co-pays and their deductibles or other out-of-pocket expenses.

Each State is Different
Each state is charged with operating their own SHOP Market Place either on its own, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or they can allow the Department of Health and Human Services to manage it completely with no influence from the state. To learn what your state is doing and what your state’s options are, visit Healtcare.gov.

No matter which state you live in or have your business in, you need to realize that by federal mandate, if you offer one employee healthcare, you must offer all full-time employees, and those who work more than thirty hours a week for you, the option for healthcare. This will dissuade some businesses from only offering healthcare to employees that you know need this option, as it may make it less palatable if you need to help finance multiple healthcare plans.

Hiring an Expert
While the Affordable Healthcare Act is still fairly new, there are experts available for small businesses to look to for help. Working with these experts will take some of your time as they navigate you through the maze of options surrounding the new healthcare reform. In the long run though, these same experts may save you and your employees money by helping you pick the best affordable plan. Visit this link on healthcare.gov for more information.

Tax Breaks
For those businesses that employ less than thirty-five employees and chose to offer healthcare, there are incentives to this choice. Next year you could earn up to fifty percent of your contribution on your employees premium costs back in credits. The smaller your business the better your potential in credits you can earn. For a full breakdown visit this link.

Stay Legal
Whether you need to offer healthcare or not, you do need to inform your employees about their options for affordable healthcare. They need to know if you are offering a healthcare plan or not, and if they choose to buy insurance on their own they may lose their option to purchase healthcare from you their employer. For a full list of information you need to convey to your employees go to this link on the healthcare.gov site.

The new Affordable Care Act is confusing and until something changes, every small business owner needs to take time to investigate on their own what they need to do to not only remain legal, but to also provide best for their employees.

What have you done already, or are planning to do in response to the Affordable Care Act kicking in? Share your thoughts with your fellow fishing tackle professionals on our Facebook page and in our LinkedIn group.