Big changes are in store for many small businesses because of the Affordable Care Act. Many important parts of the Act will be phased in starting in January 2014. According to Healthcare.gov, different provisions may apply based on the size of your business, including potential tax benefits and penalties for noncompliance.
Here are key points:
Open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace began Oct. 1, 2013. The Marketplace offers a way for people without insurance to receive coverage and to find out whether they can get lower costs for private insurance. They can also find out whether they qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Coverage is scheduled to begin as soon as Jan. 1, 2014. Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014.
Healthcare.gov states that any health care plan purchased by a small business will need to include many basic services starting in 2014. Several requirements will depend on the size of your business, according to the Small Business Administration. These include:
The U.S. Department of Labor website has more information for employers in its Affordable Care Act section. The federal government has set aside $200 million to help businesses with fewer than 100 employees implement work site wellness programs to help improve employee health. Learn more about that on the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation website.
States have some control over certain provisions of the law, including options for working with the federal government to provide health care plans and operating state-run plans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set up a website with state-by-state fact sheets to help consumers stay updated about each state’s plans.
Businesses with fewer than 25 employees that pay average annual wages of less than $50,000 and provide health insurance may qualify for a tax credit of 35 percent to 50 percent of their contributions to insurance premiums. The Department of Health and Human Services has more details about tax credits for small businesses as well as state-specific information.
In 2015, businesses with 50 or more full-time employees may be required to pay at least $2,000 per worker for not providing affordable, qualifying health plans. The required payment excludes the first 30 workers, according to Healthcare.gov. The payment requirement applies when a business:
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