ADVICE

Health care reform is near

Posted 2/11/13

Whether you’re angry, happy or just plain confused about how “Obamacare” – officially known as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA – will impact your business, my best advice is this: Get over it!

Official start date is Jan. 1, 2014, but some provisions are already in place (such as health care tax credits for small biz) with more coming soon. Time to buck up and figure out what it means for your business, what steps you need to take and how you’re going to deal with the changes.

Details of health care reform are starting to unfold. The U.S. Small Business Administration, for example, has launched a new website (SBA.gov/healthcare) and blog (sba.gov/blog) devoted exclusively to explaining it for small business. And while the SBA’s take on ACA is certainly biased to the upside, this new resource does offer a helpful gateway to information about how it will work.

Keep an eye out for something called the Small Business Health Options Program or SHOP. This program, launching in October, is designed as a (relatively) hassle-free way for you to find health insurance.

Starting in 2014, you or your small business can also get insurance through a new type of nonprofit, consumer-run health insurer called a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP). You can find more at the HealthCare.gov website.

Here are some key provisions based on the size business you are, from self-employed to 50-plus employees.

• Self-employed: Health insurance coverage for the self-employed will be in place and available through a new competitive health insurance marketplace in each state no later than January 1, 2014, with open enrollment starting October 1, 2013. You’ll be able to choose from four levels of coverage that pay different percentages of your costs.

• Less than 25 and less than 50 employees: One provision already in place is a tax credit (way better than a simple deduction) for small businesses with fewer than 25 employees that pay a portion of employee health premiums and meet other criteria. Right now, the credit maximum is 35 percent of what you pay for coverage and that will go to 50% in 2014.

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