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Coverage options, tax credits under Obamacare for entrepreneurs

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Coverage options, tax credits under Obamacare for entrepreneurs

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With a new administration and Congress in place this year, many are questioning the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the health insurance marketplaces it created. In Illinois, there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about what this new regime might mean for the state’s health insurance marketplace, Get Covered Illinois, and enrollment options for 2017.

To set the record straight and provide some useful information, here are a few key points that Filipino small employers and self-employed entrepreneurs in Illinois should keep in mind when it comes to the health care law and their coverage options.

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First, the ACA is a federal law that cannot be changed or repealed without an act of Congress. Unless the new administration and Congress develop an alternative, health insurance marketplaces like Get Covered Illinois and Healthcare.gov will continue to enroll individuals and small businesses for the foreseeable future.

Protected by law

What’s more, financial assistance made available through the ACA is protected by law, which means entrepreneurs and their employees are still eligible for tax credits or subsidies to help offset the cost of their premiums. And don’t forget: The same law carries a tax penalty for anyone who goes three months or more without coverage.

Because the ACA remains in place, Illinois small-business owners and their employees should continue to shop for coverage for 2017. For those who aren’t familiar with the state health insurance marketplace, Get Covered Illinois has two branches—one for individuals, the other for small businesses.

The individual marketplace is available to any self-employed individual or small business employee whose employer doesn’t offer insurance. While open enrollment for individual and family health plans ends on January 31, the small business marketplace, known as SHOP, is open year round.

Small-business marketplace

Since the small-business marketplace offers year-round enrollment, small employers with fewer than 50 employees looking for a plan still have time to get covered. But in order for small businesses to take advantage of this option, they need to know what SHOP can do for their businesses. Here are some important facts to help get entrepreneurs up to speed.

  • •    SHOP allows small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to shop online for health coverage. Small employers can browse, compare plans and fill out their applications online.
    •    SHOP may offer businesses more competitive choices, which can help lower premium costs, thus improving their bottom lines.
    •    Small employers that do offer coverage through the marketplace may also be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50 percent of their premiums. On average, 8 out of 10 small employers qualify for a tax credit. Check out Small Business Majority’s tax credit calculator to see if you’re eligible and to receive a tax credit estimate.
    •    Illinois’ SHOP now offers employee choice, which means small business workers are able to choose from a number of plans from different carriers.

Additionally, for small businesses that buy a plan that is ACA-compliant, they will not be charged more for female workers or for employees who have pre-existing conditions. What’s more, there is now a cap on how much more employers can be charged for their older workers. Small businesses could save money by buying a compliant plan through the health insurance marketplaces, or buy a healthcare plan with better coverage for about the same cost as their current plan.

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Guaranteed coverage

And keep this in mind: If you enroll in a Get Covered Illinois plan for 2017, no matter what lawmakers do going forward, you are guaranteed to receive health insurance coverage from the carrier you selected.
In order to start the enrollment process, entrepreneurs can visit Get Covered Illinois’ site to fill out an application, or contact a certified health insurance broker who can assist with the enrollment process.
To learn more about SHOP, enrollment dates and coverage plans, visit our Health Coverage Guide, which contains a wealth of information for small business owners regarding enrollment, the Affordable Care Act and the healthcare system in general.
To learn more or speak with a certified educator from Small Business Majority, please contact Geraldine Aglipay at 312-487-1899 or gaglipay@smallbusinessmajority.org.

Geraldine Aglipay is an Outreach Manager of the Midwest Region and Greater Chicago Small Business Majority. Website is www.smallbusinessmajority.org

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TAGS: ACA coverage options, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Get Covered Illinois, health insurance advice for small-business owners, health insurance tax credit, SHOP Illinois
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