Small businesses across the country are preparing for what is undoubtedly the biggest change in healthcare since the ‘60s, with many thought to be struggling at how to deal with new rules set to be introduced over the next two years. Most major companies and institutions in the US offer health benefits to their employees not only as an incentive for loyalty, but because it is believed to be the moral thing to do. This way of thinking has resulted in most Americans getting their health insurance through the companies they work for.
Now, with the introduction of the Affordable Health Care Act set to reshape the way health insurance is delivered across the country, many small business owners are struggling with the confusion of what the healthcare reform will mean for them.
If you’re looking to start up a small business, or could find yourself working for one, in the near future, you’re probably wondering what it could mean for you, too.
How these changes affect small business
This is an especially confusing time for small-sized companies and their employees, as they need to be ready for these changes which will come into effective over the next couple of years.
• According to Univera Healthcare’s regional Vice President of Sales, Pamela Pawenski, many companies are “afraid to make a wrong move.”
• The act makes it a requirement for large companies to offer health insurance coverage that is affordable and comprehensive, although this has now been delayed to January 2015.
• Smaller companies, on the other hand, will not be required to provide health insurance – however, those who do could be eligible for tax credits.
• Small employers who also provide coverage for their workers may be inclined to actually drop this coverage, instead steering employers toward the state’s insurance exchange, if it means workers could be paying less for their insurance.
• Most people currently receiving health insurance via their employer should not expect any change in their coverage next year, although there have been reports of some companies trying to avoid the large-employee mandate by actually cutting their workers’ hours.
• The changes being introduced have left employers of all sizes seeking advice from insurance brokers and other industry experts in order to help better plan for the years ahead.
Smaller businesses will have more health insurance choices to choose from in 2014, although experts predict that most small employers and businesses already providing insurance will stick to their current insurers for at least another year.
It is also thought that small companies who employ 50 workers or less could choose the option of directing their employees to purchase insurance via the small business section of the public exchange – a particularly good option if your business has less than 25 employees, as you could be eligible for small business tax credits. It should be noted however, that not all small companies would qualify, and the credits wouldn’t be permanent.
Despite this, New York is expecting around 450,000 small business employees to sign up for the state benefits exchange for small businesses. But bear in mind, if you work for a small business, you could be better off signing up via the state’s individual exchange, as it could mean even cheaper insurance payments with federal tax credits to lower the cost of your coverage.
Director of Healthcase Reform for BlueCross BlueShield, Gregory Pasieka, said: “In certain circumstances, it will be to the employee’s benefit if their small-business employer does not offer them coverage.” Hopefully with professional advice from those within the medical field, especially those with a health care mba, small businesses will be steered toward the best healthcare insurance choice for them.