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Small Businesses and the Affordable Care Act



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As more and more of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is implemented nationwide, small businesses will have more options for providing employee healthcare. They also stand to benefit from tax breaks specifically designed for small businesses that utilize the ACA marketplace. The idea is to give small businesses more choices and access to coverage options that were previously only available to large companies. The tricky part, of course, is navigating the details, which can seem overwhelming (especially as there are some differences in implementation state by state). Here are a few important dates, details and resources to help you make informed decisions regarding employee healthcare and the ACA.

Employer Mandate Penalties

Many employers may be concerned about incurring penalties for not insuring workers. For businesses of under 50 employees, there are no such penalties.

SHOP Enrollment

As of November 15, 2014, small business owners will be able to purchase employee health insurance plans for 2015 through the online Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace. For 2015, SHOP will be available for business of 50 or fewer full-time employees. By 2016, SHOP will be made available for companies of 100 or fewer. Before open enrollment begins on November 15th, businesses can apply for SHOP coverage or seek tax credits with the assistance of a health care agent, broker or navigator. Using SHOP allows you and your employees to make side-by-side comparisons of health plans based on differing premiums, deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses. As the employer, you decide how much of an employees premium you'll cover. For detailed information on benefits of the SHOP Marketplace, refer to

Tax Breaks

One of the most attractive features of the ACA for small businesses is undoubtedly the small business tax credit. To be eligible for this, you must have fewer than 25 full-time (or full-time equivalent) employees whose average wages are less than $50,000. You can even apply for the credit retroactively, dating back to 2010 (when the ACA was passed). The best resource for finding out if you qualify and how to apply for the credit is on the IRS website.

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