ACA update: January 2014
What’s ahead for 2014?
The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, picked up steam in 2013 as open enrollment began and other significant pieces of the law fell into place. And 2014 is shaping up to be even more significant for small business owners as the ACA kicks in.
Here are just a few highlights of the law that became effective Jan. 1:
- Universal coverage.
Under the law, most individuals who can afford it will be required to obtain basic health insurance coverage if you have none, whatever your status — unemployed, small business owner or U.S. senator. If not, you’ll have to pay a penalty in 2015. That penalty is set at 1 percent of yearly taxable household income or $95 per person ($47.50 per child under 18), whichever is greater.
- Tax credits.
Tax credits are now available for small business owners. You may qualify for tax credits if you have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees making an average of about $50,000 a year or less. To qualify for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, you must pay at least 50 percent of full-time employees’ premium costs and purchase coverage through the Federal Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplace. The credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees’ premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers). You don’t need to offer coverage to part-time employees or to dependents, however. Credits are also available for individual market coverage if your income is between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line and you’re not eligible for other affordable coverage.
- Prohibiting discrimination due to pre-existing conditions or gender.
The law prohibits insurance companies from refusing to sell coverage or renew policies because of a pre-existing condition and eliminates the ability of insurance companies to charge higher rates due to gender or health status.
- No annual limits on insurance coverage.
The law also prohibits new plans and existing group plans from imposing annual dollar limits on the amount of coverage an individual may receive in network.
- Shopping in the health insurance marketplace.
You and your employees can now buy insurance directly in the health insurance marketplace, now mostly operational. Since Missouri has no marketplace, you’ll need to go to the federally run site.
Webinar dates for the Affordable Care Act 101
The Small Business Administration and Small Business Majority are committed to helping businesses navigate the changes and opportunities in health care through the Affordable Care Act 101 webinar series. Each week, small business owners can learn the basics of the ACA and how they can enroll.
Dates and details are listed on SBA’s website.
These are just highlights of the changes rung in for 2014. For more, go to healthcare.gov.
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