NEWARK – Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. hosted a small business forum to provide information to entrepreneurs on the new opportunities and obligations under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“The Affordable Care Act has garnered both acclaim and confusion,” said Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10). “However, many fears about this new law are driven by a lack of information or misinformation. This forum is meant to eliminate misconceptions and provide entrepreneurs with resources to choose the plan that is best for them, their business, and their employees. But the education of our entrepreneurs doesn’t end here; my office will continue to be a resource for our small business owners well into the future.”
“While the U.S. Small Business Administration has no regulatory authority when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, we do have a pivotal role in making small business owners aware of the choices that are available to them,” said SBA New Jersey District Director Al Titone. “Starting this fall, small business owners will be able to shop for health insurance policies in state exchanges. As these exchanges become operational, small businesses in New Jersey and throughout the country will have a much clearer idea of their options and a path to affordable care.”
“We appreciate Congressman Payne’s leadership and support in educating his constituents about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Starting October 1, 2013, individuals, families and small businesses can shop in the Marketplace for affordable, quality health care coverage, ” said Dennis Gonzalez, Regional Executive Officer of HHS. “The best way to learn more about the law is to visit www.healthcare.gov and to spread the word to your family and community to do the same.”
On average, small businesses pay more for health insurance than larger firms with comparable policies but receive fewer benefits. Prior to ACA, 20 percent of consumers were in plans that spent more than 30 cents of every premium dollar on administrative costs. The ACA fixed that by creating more transparency and accountability. It requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of small employer premiums on medical costs instead of administrative expenses, like marketing or salaries. Insurance companies issued rebates worth $321 million to the small group market last summer because they spent too much on administrative costs. In addition, nearly 2 million employees at 309,000 small businesses took advantage of the small business tax credit last year and received an average credit of $1,400. This credit will increase from 35% to 50% of premium costs in 2014 to further offset the cost of providing health coverage.
“It’s never too soon to start alleviating concerns so that small business owners feel confident that they can grow and hire despite the changes to the health care law,” continued Rep. Payne, Jr. “I think you are going to see a great change in this country when millions of people see that they have access to health care that they didn’t have before, and I believe small business owners took away from this forum that the health care law can actually help them succeed.”
ACA will also help small employers find coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), which will open for business on Oct. 1. For the first time, small firms will have access to a new tool that lets them research and compare health insurance options in one place. A list of available insurance options will be given by how much they cost and what coverage they offer.
The forum answered questions about what small business owners can do if they are already offering insurance to their employees, what the Marketplace insurance covers, what is considered a small business under ACA, and what resources are available for small businesses to find the coverage that is right for their business.
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