This week, we will be marking the one year anniversary of enactment of the Affordable Care Act and kicking off the Better Benefits, Better Health Initiative. This initiative will highlight the important information consumers, families and businesses need to get the benefits of reform.
We’re kicking off the initiative by highlighting some important information for small business owners. Small business owners and their employees have always gotten the short end of the stick, paying an average of 18% more for insurance that often covers less than the policies sold to their larger competitors. And small businesses lack the purchasing power that larger employers have. That's changing thanks to the health care law signed by President Obama one year ago.
Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act is helping small business owners get quality affordable coverage for their families and their employees.
Here are some important things to know:
- If you own a small business with fewer than 25 full time-equivalent employees, you may qualify for a small business tax credit to help offset the costs of covering your employees. Small business owners can visit www.irs.gov/sbhtc to learn more.
- We estimate that up to 4 million small businesses could be eligible to receive these tax credits to make employees’ health coverage more affordable. And the tax credits will be worth a combined total of $40 billion over ten years.
- Employer-based plans that provide health insurance to retirees ages 55-64 can get financial help through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. This program is designed to maintain health coverage for retirees, workers, and employers. Visit www.errp.gov to learn more.
- If one of your workers has been uninsured because of a pre-existing condition, he or she may be eligible to join the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. To find out about plans available in your State, please visit: www.pcip.gov.
- If you are in a new insurance plan, insurance companies cannot charge you or your workers a deductible or copays for recommended preventive services, like mammograms and flu shots. Click here to find a list of preventive services that will be covered without copays.
In addition, insurance companies are prohibited from capping the dollar amount of care you or your employees can receive in a lifetime, or dropping coverage due to an honest mistake on an application when someone gets sick. And they have to spend at least 80% of your premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, salaries or administrative expenses – or provide you and your workers a rebate.
To learn more, visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/foryou/betterbenefitsbetterhealth/smallbusiness.html
And for a flyer to share with your small business, click here.
Richard Sorian is Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.