In the midst of political standoffs and technological blunders, the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment became effective October 1, 2013 and will last until March 1, 2014.  This is a large health care and legislative change for Americans, and leaves employers of smaller companies wondering how it will affect their businesses, taxes, and bank accounts.


New Options for Small Business Owners

The Affordable Care Act’s registration and FAQs site,, lists any business with fewer than 50 employees as small, and therefore not required to purchase health insurance for full time workers. However, if a small business is interested in insuring employees, owners will be able to sign up for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).  Once registered with SHOP, an employer decides the type of coverage and premium for full-time employees. This is particularly helpful to businesses with less than 25 employees, which are then qualified for a tax credit covering up to 50% of employer contribution. Even bigger changes in health care provisions begin in 2014, when insurers will no longer have the option to refuse insurance based on health statuses or preexisting conditions (including covered family members.)  Insurance providers will also no longer charge a higher premium for groups like women, who usually have higher medical costs.

Applying for SHOP

When applying for SHOP insurance policies, small business owners will be presented with a series of questions regarding their needed coverage.  The most important being: What county and state is your business located in?  This is important because different states have opted in or out of using the database system.  The state of Texas is one of the many using this system and will provide employers with a list of competitors’ premiums for a variety of nonsmoking groups (smokers will affect rates). Applicants will then see options based on state, county, and coverage.  Coverage plans are categorized by the most basic package to top coverage: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The package chosen and premium paid will be each employer’s personal judgment call.

Putting Thought into Your Health Care Choice: The benefit of regular networking

As informative as the site is, it cannot tell an employer what coverage and what premium is right for both the employees and the financial well being of the company.  There are many health care and tax experts who may hypothesize the most beneficial plan, but none of these specialists will have the same point of view as a local business professional that has experienced similar coverage and premiums first hand.

At regular local business networking events, like Networking Austin, a social environment mixed with business diversity provides the perfect setting for discussing new company decisions. The variety of industries mixed with businesses of all sizes provides employers with inner and outer industry views on tax break options and coverage decisions.  Health insurance is a topic on every company’s agenda, giving members of a friendly business network plenty of opinions to share.

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