The past year has been one of the most challenging in American history, especially for small business owners. Not only was staying financially afloat difficult, but a public health crisis exacerbated the many challenges of running a small business, maintaining healthcare coverage and all that comes with it. A May Small Business for America’s Future survey of more than 1,000 small business owners found that 75% said providing health coverage to employees has increased over the last four years and nearly one in three small business owners have considered dropping coverage with the most prevalent reason being high costs. In this context, small businesses across the country may be considering what’s next. The same pandemic that created many of these challenges has also shown the importance of public health, healthcare and the new coverage options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that help small business owners and their employees access coverage.
In fact, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made healthcare coverage accessible to millions of individuals, small business owners and their employees who otherwise could not afford it. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) then broadened eligibility under the ACA and added tax credits for health insurance, making obtaining coverage more accessible and affordable than before. Even with these benefits, small business owners still have to navigate their diverse needs in providing coverage to employees, such as tax credits and finding the right plan, while also running a business.
Here are three things small business owners should consider about getting coverage under the ACA.
1. The SHOP Marketplace is Tailored to Small Businesses Health Insurance Plans
The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace provides detailed guidance on the type of plans that are available through Healthcare.gov to small businesses that have less than 50 full-time employees. The plans provide quality, affordable health and dental insurance, but also give small employers a choice and flexibility in selecting the right coverage for their employees. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a resource for understanding the options available to small business owners and self-employed individuals in 36 states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia using the HealthCare.gov platform.
2. SHOP Plans are the Best Avenue for Receiving the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
The SHOP plans are also generally the only way to qualify for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, which can be worth up to 50% of an employer’s contribution to premium costs. There are a number of requirements for obtaining the credit, but it is generally available to businesses with 25 for fewer employees who have a SHOP plan.
3. Self-Employed Individuals can also Purchase Plans on Healtcare.gov
Self-employed individuals such as gig workers, freelancers, consultants, independent contractors, and business owners with no employees can also purchase coverage on Healthcare.gov. For self-employed individuals who were not able to qualify for coverage in the past, it is important to note that the ARP broadened eligibility for coverage so they may now qualify. Most people currently enrolled in a Marketplace plan may qualify for more tax credits, making health insurance premiums after these new savings lower than ever before.
Small business owners often work at least 12 hours a day just to keep the lights on and operations running. Whether you are self-employed and check out the individual Marketplace or a small employer who checks out the SHOP Marketplace — it can be an easier option for them to select the right health coverage options for their business and employees and SHOP-registered agents and brokers are also available to help. Employers can visit healthcare.gov/small-businesses/ to learn more.