By Calvin W. Goings, Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration
- for The Capitol Hill Times -
With only a couple weeks to go during the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period, now is the time for self-employed business owners to sign up for a plan.
With new Health Insurance Marketplaces (also referred to as Exchanges) open, self-employed business owners and other consumers can purchase private insurance coverage from a range of options and depending on income and residency, potentially qualify for additional subsidies like Medicaid or tax credits.
Coming up, there are some important dates that self-employed business owners need to know if they want to sign up for coverage for this year.
Open enrollment for 2014 coverage ends March 31, 2014. An exception would include a qualifying life event that provides you with a special enrollment period such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of a job.
If you don’t have health coverage in 2014, you may have to pay a penalty.
The next Open Enrollment period is proposed to begin on November 15, 2014 for health insurance coverage that begins January 1, 2015.
Why enroll? Small business owners have historically paid as much as 18 percent more for health care coverage than larger companies. The Affordable Care Act helps level the playing field, slows cost growth, and with consumer protections like insurance rate reviews and a ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions in place, provides greater certainty that small business owners can access the coverage they need, when they need it.
To find an insurance plan that meets your needs today, check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services insurance finder tool. By answering just a few simple questions, you’ll be able to locate health insurance plans in your state and explore whether there are local facilities in your area that provide free or reduced-cost health care.
To browse coverage options, assess potential subsidies, and purchase your plan online through the individual marketplace, simply go to www.healthcare.gov.
For more information about other provisions affecting self-employed business owners under the Affordable Care Act, visit sba.gov/healthcare. Or contact SBA staff, in the Seattle District Office who are ready and willing to answer your questions at 206-553-5231.