By Calvin W. Goings SBA News
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 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 works.
Under the Affordable Care Act, small employers will have more options. First, starting Jan. 1, 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 percent of their premium costs if they choose to purchase coverage through SHOP.
Enrollment starts Oct. 1 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
The Washington Healthplanfinder is the SHOP Marketplace that serves Washington state small businesses and residents. Visitors to the Healthplanfinder website, 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 plan costs and benefits 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 its 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 go to www.sba.gov/wa.
This column is the second in a three-part series on the Affordable Care Act by Calvin Goings, regional administrator with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Seattle office.