One of the major challenges in business is recruiting, training, and retaining the best employees. Offering health insurance as part of the employee benefits package has always been one of the best ways to accomplish this goal. Now, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), more companies are able to access group health insurance than ever before. Since the new system can be a bit confusing, here’s a quick guide to help sort the options.
How large is your business?
A large business which employes 50 or more full-time workers is actually required by the ACA to provide health insurance, or face stiff penalties at tax time. However, since the specific mandate which applies to your company may have been postponed or changed, it is best to consult a licensed insurance agent to find out how the law specifically affects your company. Your agent can also guide you in finding and applying for the right group health insurance plan. Also, a tax professional can help you to further understand the financial implications of not complying with the ACA’s mandates.
If you’re a small business, with fewer than 50 full-time workers, the mandate requiring companies to provide health insurance does not apply to you. However, many small companies realize the value of providing health insurance, and one goal of the ACA was to encourage them to do so. The state of California operates a separate exchange, called the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), to aid small businesses in selecting a group health insurance plan. You can fill out a paper application, call the SHOP hotline for help, or speak with a qualified insurance agent for more information.
Your business might qualify for tax credits.
While large businesses will eventually face a penalty for failing to provide insurance, small companies are offered the incentive of a tax credit for doing so. Many small businesses will qualify for these tax credits, which will help them to afford their health insurance premiums. To determine your company’s eligibility, fill out an application through the SHOP program. You may be pleasantly surprised by how affordable employee health insurance can be.
Mark Your Calendar.
Open Enrollment, the period during which both large and small companies can select a group health insurance plan, ends on March 31, 2014. Enrollment will not re-open until November 15.