Are you living in fear of Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which fully goes into effect in January 2014? (For info on how Obamacare might mean a business boom for allied health professionals, check out the blog post “Allied Health Professionals to Play Bigger Role Under Obamacare?”)
Even if you’re a one-person small business, Obamacare will affect you – but not necessarily in a bad way. Here are four things you need to know:
- You only have to comply with the ACA if you have more than 50 full-time or full-time-equivalent employees. Otherwise you are exempt and your business does not have to offer employees health insurance. (Two half-time employees add up to one full-time equivalent.) The good news? Ninety-six percent of U.S. small businesses fall into this category and will not be affected by the ACA.
- If you do have 50 or more full-time or full-time-equivalent employees, starting on January 1, 2014, you are required to offer health insurance to them or pay a penalty. As has been widely stated, in some cases it may cost you less to pay the penalty than to offer insurance.
- If you are self-employed with no employees, the ACA will require you to buy health insurance starting in 2014, but there will be more affordable options to do so. The Department of Insurance in your state can tell you if self-employed people are considered small businesses. Healthcare.gov's insurance and coverage finder can help you find a plan. If a pre-existing condition has kept you from getting insurance, the good news is health insurers will have to sell coverage to everyone who applies, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
- Insurance exchanges will be set up in each state by January 1, 2014, to certify insurance plans, offer plans for sale, and provide buyers more information about costs and coverage options. If a state does not set up its own exchange, the federal government will step in and do it for them. You can see whether your state has an exchange at the Kaiser Family Foundation site.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.