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What do small businesses need to know about the Affordable Care Act?

 

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a small business is defined as an employer with 50 or fewer employees.  The rules for small businesses are much different than those for mid and large sized employers. For one the ACA set aside an online health insurance market place specifically for small businesses known as the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).  The SHOP Marketplace was designed to allow employers with 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees to provide their employees with health insurance at an affordable cost.

 

Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have their own exchange. The SHOP exchanges can be accessed through the HealthCare.gov website, which will then direct you to your state’s exchange.  If your state chose to run its own exchange you can enroll immediately. If your state opted for a federally run exchange, enrollment starts on November 1st.

 

Some of the rules that small business owners need to know:

 

 - Businesses with 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees are not required to offer health insurance.

 

 - Small business have a choice of selecting a selecting a health insurance plan for their employees or allowing their employees to search the health insurance exchange for an insurance plan of their choice.

 

 - Once a small business elects to provide its employees with health insurance through SHOP it must provide them with information such as enrollment procedures, plan information, the level of the employer contribution and the consequences of declining health insurance or buying health insurance in the individual marketplace.

 

 - Business owners with 25 employees or less should know that if they enroll in the SHOP marketplace they may qualify for a health care tax credit worth up to 50% of the cost of the premium.

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