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Do Small Businesses Have To Offer Health Insurance Under Obamacare

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Obamacare 101: What you need to get insured

Insurance is one of the larger expenses for businesses and individuals alike. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation , the average annual premiums in 2021 were $7,739 for single coverage and $22,221 for family coverage. Over the last year, the average premium for both single and family coverage increased by 4%. Even more shocking: the average family premium has increased 47% since 2011 and 22% since 2016.

With increases like these, its no wonder people are frustrated angry, and looking for ways to save. Recently, a business owner was explaining how angry she was because her individual health insurance plan, bought through the marketplace, had just increased premiumsagain and this time it was worse than before.

How Will I Know If I Have Been Assessed A Penalty

The Internal Revenue Service sends Letter 226J to employers and plan sponsors relating to compliance for any given year. You have 30 days to respond if you are found out of compliance. When a penalty is assessed, you are informed via IRS Notice 220J. This notice will inform you of the penalty, if any. The Notice will advise you of your rights of appeal.

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Enrollment Options And Procedures

Once you have your health plan in place, youll need to manage all the details of signing up and dropping employees. Below, we explain how to do this and the rules you need to understand.

Adding and Dropping Employees

You can add employees to the medical plan when they are hired, usually on the first of the month following date of hire, or the first of the month after completing a waiting/probationary period. Once the employee chooses a plan, it stays in effect until one of two things happens:

  • Open enrollment. See below for more information.
  • Qualifying status change. Go to Making Enrollment Changes below for more information.

You can drop employees from the plan at any time during the year due to:

  • Termination. Layoff, firing, retirement or quitting.
  • Change in hours or classification. Employees who reduce their hours so that they are no longer eligible for insurance, or who move into a classification that is not offered insurance . Employees who lose coverage must be offered the opportunity to continue their medical coverage at their own expense.

Open Enrollment

Making Enrollment Changes

Employees generally can make changes to their benefit elections during the year only if they have a qualifying status change. Events that qualify as a status change include:

Waiver of Coverage

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The Small Business Health Options Program

The Affordable Care Act has created the Small Business Health Options Program for small business owners who want to provide health coverage to their employees. Accordingly, small businesses may benefit from some of the ACA’s incentives, such as access to the health insurance marketplaces and certain exemptions.

The Best Strategy For Health Insurance For Small Business

Do Employers Have To Provide Health Insurance Under Obamacare


Starting your own company is no easy feat. Finding the best health insurance for small business is probably on that long to do list of yours. This post outlines your options and hopefully saves you a little time and stress in the decision-making department.

There are a lot of what ifs when it comes to starting your own business. First, do you have a great idea for product or service? How will it be marketed? How big is the market you will compete in? What does the competition look like? Should you hire a team to do a spiffy logo and website or should you go the DIY approach?

Then there’s the financial piece. How are you going to finance your business? Can you afford to launch a company without a loan? Do you qualify for one? Are you planning on fundraising with potential investors? Do you understand the tax implications of owning a small business .

Now let’s talk about the questions you should ask about your health insurance, because whether you like it or not, that plays into the financial reality of your company and needs to be a part of your growth plan. More business equals more employees equals a greater need for health insurance.

Do I have a plan for health insurance if I leave my current company’s health insurance plan to go out on my own? Does my spouse have a health plan that can cover me? Am I planning on growing? Do I have to offer my employees health insurance?

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Do Small Businesses Have To Offer Health Insurance To Employees

With the Affordable Care Acts passage in 2010, small businesses have greater responsibility for covering health insurance benefits when theyre of a certain size. Its confusing to figure out what a small company needs to provide, though, and what options are available at a rate they can handle.

Here are a few things to know about the health insurance requirements for small businesses:

When Do Companies Have To Provide Health Insurance

  • According to the Obamacare employer mandate, all businesses with 50 or more full time equivalent employees must provide health insurance for at least 95 percent of their employees by 2016
  • If companies do not comply with this mandate, they will have to pay a fee
  • The mandate does not apply to companies who employ less than 50 people and to part time workers who work less than 30 hours a week

Companies must offer affordable insurance to their employees that provides minimum essential coverage and coverage for dependents up until the age of 26. The employer mandate has different requirements for companies of different sizes.

Large companies that employ more than 100 full time equivalent employees were required to insure at least 95 percent of their full time employees by 2016.

Companies with over 200 full time equivalent employees must automatically enroll all new hires and provide them with an opt-out, if they do not wish to enroll with the company-sponsored plan.

Smaller business that only employ between 50 and 99 full time workers were required to insure all employees by 2016, meaning that it is a currently active requirement for all business with 50 or more employees.

Looking for affordable health insurance that your employer doesnt offer? Enter your zip above and get free low-cost health care plans in your state.

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Insurance Options For Employees Of Small Businesses

Currently, there is no penalty for individuals who dont have insurance. However, if youre an employer that is not an ALE and isnt offering health insurance, your employees have the option of getting their own individual health insurance policy. Employees can purchase their own health policy and you can set them up with an HRA as an added benefit bonus.

Individuals that want their own health insurance policy can apply for coverage on the federal marketplace, a local broker, or a state exchange. The most convenient time for individuals to start a new policy is during open enrollment.

If an employee experiences a qualifying life event, such as losing their current health coverage, getting married or divorced, having a baby, or changing their residence, they can qualify for a special enrollment period.

It Boosts Employee Productivity

Can Obamacare Handle The Great Resignation?

Worrying about healthcare coverage and neglecting preventative care because of healthcare costs can lead to stress and illness, both of which lower employee productivity at work. According to the Center for Disease Control, healthier employees are more productive and are less likely to call in sick for work. Offering health care coverage to employees can reduce stress levels and encourage workers to get the care they need to maintain their health and stay productive.

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How Much Does Health Insurance Cost A Small Business

The cost of small business health insurance depends on several factors. These may include the location of your company, number of employees, coverage details, deductibles, and more. The average annual premiums are $7,470 for individuals and $21,342 for family coverage, according to a 2020 survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

So Far Few Small Businesses Have Signed Up For Group Health Insurance Through The New Exchanges Created By Obamacare Here’s Why

The Obama administration has been touting its success at getting 8 million Americans signed up for individual health plans through new health-insurance marketplaces. But so far, it has kept mum about the number of small businesses that have enrolled in group plans via SHOP marketplaces, designed to help companies with 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees find affordable coverage. These federally-run exchanges are the default option in 34 states that declined to manage their own insurance marketplaces.

Based on what we know about state-run marketplaces, the numbers aren’t likely to be very impressive. As of April 8, Connecticut’s marketplace had sold plans to just 78 businesses, covering a total of 330 people. In California, where 1.4 million people have signed up for private insurance through the individual marketplace, only about 4,900 people are covered by SHOP plans.

4. Employees may get a better deal without you. “Individual plans can be 20 to 30 percent cheaper than comparable group plans,” says Sen. Individual plans may also offer more flexibility in choosing health providers. Employees earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level may also qualify for exchange subsidies for themselves and their family members–but only if they don’t get coverage through an employer. Which leaves many small businesses wondering, “Why would I want to interfere with that?”

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When Businesses Fail To Offer Health Insurance

Obamacare requires that employers with at least 50 full-time workers offer health insurance coverage to those workers. Otherwise, you’ll have to make a tax payment called the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment . Many businesses may opt to just pay the ESRP if it’s cheaper than offering insurance. So how much is it?

If you decide not to offer insurance, you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $2,000 per full-time employee. However, there’s no penalty for the first 30 employees, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

How Will The Employer Mandate Effect Every Day Americans

ObamaCare: Your Spouse Isn

Every day Americans work. What this mandate means for them is that employers must affordably cover at least 70% of their full-time workforce by 2015 and 95% by 2016. This means that the employer may elect to offer employee-only plans. To qualify as affordable, the premium the employee pays must be at 9.5 percent of the workers income on their W2. The plan must cover at least 60 percent of health care expenses. If the plan fails to meet these criteria, employees may seek government subsidies. If this happens, the employer pays a fine.

Workers will fall into two categories: full-time and full-time equivalent and part time. Full-time is defined as 30 hours per week. Full-time equivalent is defined as a fraction of all work hours. For instance, a company has three employees, and one works 40 hours per week, one works 35 hours per week, and the third works 25 hours per week. Add the total hours worked for the week, and divide by 40. The company then has one full-time worker and 2.5 full-time equivalents. Part-time is generally considered less than 30 hours, usually 28 hours.

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Should Small Employers Offer Health Insurance

Even though they are not required to offer health insurance, there is a strong argument to make that small business should offer health insurance to their employees, if possible, since it is such a strong added value for employees over the long run.

Since so many companies do offer health insurance, not doing so can put your business at a disadvantage when trying to attract highly skilled talent to your organization.

The Battle Over The Aca / Obamacare

From the earliest conversations about the Affordable Care Act, the law and its provisions have been vigorously opposed by Congressional Republicans.

The opposition has included numerous legal challenges over the ACAs constitutionality as well as piecemeal weakening of the law by President Donald Trumps administration. Consumer advocates note that this opposition has worsened coverage options and driven premiums upward. But the Biden administration has taken various steps to protect and strengthen the ACA, and the American Rescue Plan, enacted in March 2021, made the ACAs subsidies much stronger for 2021 and 2022 .

Read more about 50 benefits wed lose if the ACA were to be overturned, and 50 populations that are better off with the ACA in place.

Steve Anderson, healthinsurance.orgs editor and content manager, has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2008. Steve is also co-founder and editor of In previous lives, he worked as a community journalist, public relations manager and director of public affairs.

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Best For Preventative Care: Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente

  • No. States Available: 8 states and the District of Columbia
  • Providers In Network : 23,200+

Kaiser Permanente’s long history of quality customer service and its comprehensive website with ample educational resources makes it a good choice for many. More so, we recognize the company’s aggressive preventative healthcare services that aim to keep employees healthy longer.

  • Strong emphasis on preventative care

  • Detailed plan information on website

  • Only available in eight states plus Washington DC

  • Slow mental healthcare treatment

Kaiser Permanente is a leading healthcare provider and nonprofit health plan. The company was founded in 1945 but doesn’t currently have a rating with AM Best. It gets 3.5 to 5 ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 from NCQA. Kaiser ranks highest for four of the 21 award-eligible regions on the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study. Kaiser ranked highest in customer service for health insurance companies on Newsweek’s Best Customer Service Companies in 2021.

Kaiser Permanente’s coverage isn’t perfect, though. As California’s largest insurer, the company has faced a number of state sanctions and fines for delaying mental healthcare to members. The Los Angeles Times reported in December of 2019 that many people were still struggling to get timely care.

Kaiser’s small business insurance plans focus on companies with two to 100 employees. There is a total of six plan options, with varying costs by state:

What Do Small Business Owners Need To Know About Health Insurance Requirements

Small business owner reacts to Sanders’ answer on ObamaCare

Some businesses are required by law to provide health insurance, while some are exempt. Well dive into these exemptions below, but there are basic requirements when it comes to providing health insurance to your employees.

Firstly, when you provide a health insurance plan, it must meet the benefit, coverage, and affordability standards set out in the ACA. You also have to offer all eligible employees some form of health insurance within the first 90 days of their employment.

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Who Can Enroll In An Aca

The intent of the Affordable Care Act was to cover as many Americans as possible with comprehensive, major medical health insurance plans. To be eligible to enroll in a plan through the ACAs health insurance exchanges, you must be lawfully present in the U.S. and you can not be currently incarcerated.

Immigrants can enroll in individual health plans during the open enrollment period, just like any other lawfully present U.S. resident and lawfully present immigrants are eligible for ACAs premium subsidies.

Understanding The Acas Shop Option

Dont worry, businesses with less than 50 full-time employees arent left out to dry theyre simply exempt from the mandate that requires those with 50 or more full-time employees to offer affordable insurance. If you still want to offer health or dental insurance to your workers though the Marketplace, the Small Business Health Options Program is for you.

You can enroll in SHOP through either a private insurance company or with the assistance of a SHOP-registered agent or broker. Unlike the requirement put upon larger employers, small businesses that use SHOP can choose to offer health only, dental only, or both. You can also choose from a variety of plans with different coverage options and you decide how much you as the employer contribute to the costs.

The best part? If you have less than 25 employees, you can qualify for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit if you offer SHOP to your employees.

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Acas Consumer Protections/ Anti

Health reform advocates hailed Obamacare for its many provisions designed to expand coverage and to prohibit discrimination.

Protection from discrimination

Section 1557 prohibits discrimination in health plans including discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. That has been a boon to the LGBT community. The Trump administration rolled back those consumer protections with a new rule that was issued in 2020, but the Biden administration announced in May 2021 that Section 1557 requirements would once again include a prohibition on discrimination by health care entities based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

A level playing field for women

Because Obamacare prohibits discrimination because of a pre-existing or newly diagnosed condition, it also means women cant be denied coverage if theyre pregnant or be forced to pay a higher premium just because theyre women .

Another major improvement under the ACA is birth control access with plans required fully cover at least one version of every FDA-approved method of birth control for women.

Ease of claim appeals

Under Obamacare, theres an internal appeals process, and if that doesnt work, consumers have the right to an external review by an independent organization.

Protection from rescission

Under the ACA, recission by a health insurance company is prohibited unless your application was fraudulent or included intentional misrepresentation.

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