To review the various health plan options, small business owners can:
- visit the Covered California SHOP website at www.coveredca.com/small-business/
- find a Covered California insurance broker who can answer their questions by going to www.coveredca.com/hbex/agents/
- talk to their CPA or tax preparer to see if their business qualifies for a small business tax credit.
“It’s important the independent restaurant owners know about and understand the resources made newly available to them through Covered California,” CRA President + CEO Jot Condie said. “Many of these operators consider their employees like family, and are concerned for their health and well-being. Making it easier to research competitively priced health plans will allow many small employers to take that first step toward securing coverage.
With nearly half of all Americans receiving their health insurance through their employer, small businesses play an important role in fulfilling the goals of the Affordable Care Act. According to the Small Business Administration, about 7 million Californians work for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Of those, according to the California Health Care Foundation, 35 percent lack coverage, meaning there are roughly 2.5 million uninsured Californians who work for companies employing fewer than 100 people.
Covered California’s SHOP is designed to level the playing field for small business owners who want to provide health care coverage by offering plans and prices similar to those available to big businesses. The new site has improved online enrollment pages for SHOP, which is designed for companies with fewer than 50 eligible employees.
SHOP’s benefits for small businesses include:
- Expanded and affordable options. Health plans offered in the SHOP will be standardized so employers can make side-by-side comparisons of health plan benefits, premiums and quality, allowing employers to make the best decision for their business and budget. Qualified businesses may be eligible for a tax credit by purchasing health insurance through the SHOP.
- Employer control, employee choice. The SHOP will offer employers the option of deciding the level of coverage to provide and how much to contribute toward premiums. Employers decide which level of health plan is right for their budget, and their employees decide which plans meet their needs and lifestyle.
- In-person and online enrollment tools and support. Employers can receive in-person enrollment assistance at no cost from certified insurance agents. Employers and employees will be able to manage their accounts online or by telephone.
- Administrative support. SHOP helps small businesses control administrative costs by streamlining the health care benefit management processes. Once a benefit package is selected by employees, SHOP will provide small business owners with a single, consolidated bill to help minimize the time and paperwork employers often face when providing health coverage for their employees.
- Tax credits. Beginning in 2014, employers eligible for a tax credit to help defray the cost of providing coverage must enroll through SHOP to receive the credit.
- Competitive advantage. Providing health insurance can help to keep employees healthy, happy and productive. The SHOP offers quality coverage to help attract and retain top talent for business. Also, preventing illness may reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.
Learn more about employer responsibility requirements in the health care law atwww.calrest.org/healthcare.