Ever since the controversial Affordable Care Act, also know as “Obamacare,” was passed by Congress in 2010, it has caused massive confusion for small business owners across the country. Politicians on both sides of the matter have made things a bit more complicated, giving answers that do not really clear up the concerns that many business owners have.
If you own your own company, you might be wondering how this legislation is going to impact you and your staff. Here are a few answers to some common questions that business owners have about Obamacare that will hopefully clear up some of the confusion. After all, you’re busy running a business, you don’t have time to read through a bill that is thousands of pages long!
Do All Small Businesses Have to Offer Health Insurance to Their Employees?
With all of the vague, muddled language used in the legislation, many business owners are left puzzled as to whether or not they have to start offering health insurance to their workers. The answer to that question depends on the size of your business. If you have 50 or more full-time employees working on your staff, then yes, you have to offer them affordable health insurance options. A failure to provide these options results in a $2,000 fine for each staff member not covered by insurance.
It is important to note that two part-time workers equal one full-time employee, so if you have 50 part-time workers, you technically have 25 full-time staff members.
If you happen to operate with less than 50 full-time employees, then your business is not subject to any penalties. At this point in your company’s life, you are in full control over how you decide to offer healthcare, if at all.
Most small businesses with over 50 workers already offer insurance, so technically, only a small number of companies will be impacted by the law.
How Will Obamacare Impact the Self-Employed Without Employees?
If you are self-employed, but do not have any staff, you will more than likely be required to purchase health insurance. While the self-employed may balk at the idea of an extra, added expense, the good news is that the legislation does provide affordable options that will prevent purchasing coverage from eating away at too much of your profit margin.
In some states, self-employed individuals are considered small businesses, which means you’re eligible for the same kind of plans available for small companies in your area. If your state does not consider you to be a small business, then you will still need to go through Healthcare.gov to find an individual plan for yourself.
What are Health Insurance Exchanges?
Obamacare requires all states to have health insurance exchanges, either created by the individual state or federal government, that will certify plans and provide consumers with detailed information about the costs of the insurance and other available options.
The exchanges are websites, and they walk buyers through the process of finding health insurance plans that meet their healthcare needs. Some state and federal exchanges have experienced technical issues that have made the process of signing up for coverage a bit more difficult. These bugs are currently being worked on in order to provide a better user experience.
Where Can Small Business Owner Go for Help When Shopping for a Plan?
If you are uncertain about what coverage is best for you and your employees, there is plenty of information available on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website to help guide you along in the process. The SBA offers a number of webinars that go in-depth into Obamacare and better equip business owners on how to implement the program for their employees.
Also, make sure to contact your current insurance agent or provider and ask for help. Your agent will gladly meet with you and discuss your current situation and what you need to do to make sure you are in compliance with the law.