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(By Brandy Poiry)
As January 2014 approaches, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brings new insurance requirements, as well as benefits, to small businesses across the United States. For many small businesses, the ACA will finally make it cost-effective to offer health insurance. While some small businesses may be eligible for tax credits, others may be required to pay employer responsibility assessments. Do you know how to find the health insurance plan that will work best for your company? Do you know how to take advantage of tax credits and avoid assessments? Make sure your business and your employees are ready to implement ACA requirements and take advantage of its benefits with our Get Ready Checklist.
C2’s Get Ready Checklist
- Educate yourself on the requirements and benefits of the ACA for small businesses. There are many resources available, including timelines and fact sheets. The main things to know are:
- Companies with fewer than 25 employees that pay wages less than $50,000 per year and that provide health insurance are eligible for a 35% tax credit to offset the cost of the insurance. This tax credit increases to 50% in 2014.
- Companies with fewer than 100 employees can shop for cost-effective insurance plans through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).
- Small businesses can get financial help for plans that provide insurance for retirees ages 55–64 through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.
- If employees are not satisfied with the insurance their employer offers, they can use tax credits to purchase their own insurance in the Healthcare Marketplace if the employer insurance costs more than 9.5% of employee income. Employers may be assessed an employer responsibility payment to share the costs of these tax credits.
- The ACA provides additional insurance protections for small businesses and individuals.
- Do your homework to choose the best plan for your company and your employees. In the first year of the SHOP program, you will be able to choose a single plan only (after year 1, you can choose up to 4 plans for employee consideration). So, you’ll want to be sure it’s the best plan for your employees. Be sure to consider the average age of employees, known health concerns/issues, and affordability of the plans based on employee income.
- Improve employee healthcare literacy. Healthcare is a complicated issue, and the Affordable Care Act has added to the confusion for most people. Help your employees get the most out of their healthcare plans by providing a few short training sessions on basic health insurance concepts. Consider addressing:
- The value of health insurance
- The costs associated with health insurance
- The way health insurance works
- Educate employees on their healthcare options under the Affordable Care Act, including their opportunity to purchase their own insurance through the Healthcare Marketplace via tax credits.
- Make sure employees know how to use the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) application to enroll in a plan. Demonstrate how the application works, either through live demos or Adobe Captivate “movies.” You can customize this demonstration to include information on the healthcare plans your business will be offering and to show navigation to your plan choices.
- Make resources available to employees and managers so that they can educate themselves. Some good resources on the Affordable Care Act, healthcare policy, and the unique requirements of small businesses include:
We Can Help
C2 supports our clients with an array of training and resources that help businesses of all sizes implement the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and make sure that they and their employees are getting the best health insurance coverage.
Our offerings include:
- Conversation cards to facilitate discussions with employees on healthcare topics
- Brief instructor-led training sessions to prepare human resources personnel and managers to answer employee questions about healthcare and insurance
- A self-paced Web-based program that covers basic health insurance literacy concepts
- Video shorts summarizing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act
For more information on C2’s Affordable Care Act training products, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-448-7900.