The Herald Bulletin

August 22, 2013

Small business employers prepare to open SHOP

Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplace enrollment begins Oct.1

By Traci L. Moyer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Chuck Huffman said he’s not sure whether the Affordable Care Act will hurt or help his business.

“It’s going to be confusing,” Huffman said of all the new government regulations. “At least I now have a better idea of what is involved and who we have to provide for.”

On Wednesday, Huffman, the vice president of operations for Big Joe’s Event Services in Anderson, attended a seminar presented by the Small Business Administration (SBA) on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) regarding the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.

About 30 people attended the seminar, which was free and open to the public.

SHOP, which will be offered through each individual state, is available to employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees and allows employers to compare prices and coverage of different health plans. The ACA’s definition of full-time employees, however, surprised Huffman, who said he employs 10-100 part-time workers.

“Two halftime employees can be considered full-time,” he said. “Overall, I think (the Affordable Care Act) is going to hurt businesses. I think there are a lot of hidden things in it that we don’t even know about yet.”

Pam Weir, office manager for Majestic Productions, said her company does offer health insurance to its employees, but health care costs have been rising.

“I just don’t know how I feel about the government mandating that we have to offer insurance,” Weir said.

Gail Gesell, SBA Indiana district director, presented the SHOP seminar and said she hopes small businesses will keep an open mind when it comes to the new mandates. She said ACA creates an opportunity for small businesses to offer better benefits to mployees.

Small businesses may also qualify for health care tax credits that will pay up to half of the insurance premium costs. In 2014, this tax credit will be available only for plans purchased through SHOP.

Companies that qualify for SHOP can enroll in the program starting Oct. 1, with coverage beginning after Jan. 1. In 2016, all SHOPs will be open to employers with up to 100 qualifying full-time employees. Gesell said additional seminars on topics related to ACA will be offered as new information and regulations are released.

Follow Traci L. Moyer on Twitter @moyyer and lieke her at Facebook @moyer.traci.

For more information on insurance options for small businesses, please visit www.HealthCare.gov and www.ccio.cms.gov.