By Calvin W. Goings, Regional Administrator
America’s 28 million small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating two out of every three net new jobs and employing half of America’s workforce. From mom-and-pop stores and restaurants, to high-tech startups and productive manufacturers, small businesses are helping to drive the Washington economy and create jobs in our local communities.
Many small business owners consider their employees to be part of their family, and providing benefits such as health care is one important tool they have to help retain their talented workforce and compete for skilled employees.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is committed to giving small business owners the resources they need to start and grow a business– including access to critical information about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) works.
Under the Affordable Care Act, small employers will have more options.
First, starting January 1st, 2014, small businesses with generally up to 50 full-time equivalent employees will be able to purchase health insurance through the online health insurance marketplace for small businesses, known as SHOP.
The SHOP Marketplace will offer employers a choice of qualified health plans from different private health insurers and make it easier for employers to make side-by-side comparisons between these plans, based on price and benefits.
SHOP also offers employers and their employees access to health insurance plans that must include a package of “Essential Health Benefits” like coverage for doctor visits, preventive care, hospitalization and prescriptions. Any many small employers may be eligible for tax credits of up to 50% of their premium costs if they choose to purchase coverage through SHOP.
Enrollment starts on October 1st for coverage beginning January 1, 2014.
The Washington Healthplanfinder is the SHOP Marketplace that serves Washington state small businesses and residents. Visitors to the Healthplanfinder website at www.wahealthplanfinder.org/ have a new way to find, compare and enroll in health insurance. Individuals and families can shop for health plans anonymously, find out if there is financial help available, compare plans side-by-side and choose the plan that works for them.
The Affordable Care Act allows small employers to offer health coverage in a way that makes sense for their business and works for their bottom line. And the SBA is committed to leveraging our resources and federal partnerships to connect you with the facts and resources you need to understand the law.
To learn more, contact the SBA Seattle District Office at 206-553-7310 or visit the website at www.sba.gov/wa.