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Millions will be eligible for help under ACA

Health Care Reform and Policy
by Heather Robinson
How will new health insurance tax affect small businesses' costs?
How will new health insurance tax affect small businesses' costs?

Many small business owners and others in charge of working out insurance needs may be trying to assess their paths forward once the coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act takes effect on January 1, 2014. New research shows that millions of Americans nationwide will be able to receive federal help in paying for their own policies.

It's anticipated that some 25.7 million people across the country will be able to receive health insurance premium tax credits from the federal government starting next year. More than half will be those with low and middling incomes, according to a new study from Families USA. Those making between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (ranging in salaries from $47,100 to $94,200 for families of four) will receive the majority of credits on a sliding scale. This means that those making less will be eligible for the largest credits.

In all, 88 percent of recipients will be working families, and it seems that the youngest adults will also be the ones benefiting most from them, the report said. More than one-third of all Americans eligible for the benefits will fall into the young adult age group. It should be noted that unlike traditional tax credits, these will be applied when the consumer buys coverage rather than when they receive their returns at the end of filing season.

Fortunately, tens of thousands of small business owners nationwide will also benefit from federal tax credits of some kind. Those with 25 full-time employees or fewer will be eligible for subsidies of up to 50 percent of their costs when they extend health insurance coverage to those workers. This is up from the current level of 35 percent. It should be noted that employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be required to cover those people or else face significant fines for not doing so.

It's also important for small business owners and other insurance decision-makers to keep in mind that the proposed federally-run small business health insurance exchanges (SHOPs) with multiple plan offerings have been pushed back one year to 2015. In 2014, employers buying coverage through SHOPs will only be able to offer one plan option to their employees. For employers who want to offer multiple plan options to their employees, it may be necessary to seek out other options, e.g. private exchanges.

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