Monday, March 21, 2011

Affordable Care Act's One-Year Anniversary Marks Better Benefits, Better Health for Small Businesses

This week, as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services [HHS] marks the one-year anniversary of enactment of the Affordable Care Act, it also kicks off its Better Benefits, Better Health Initiative. This initiative will highlight the important information that consumers, families and businesses need in order to optimize the far-reaching benefits of reform.

HHS is kicking off the initiative by highlighting some important information for small-business owners. Small-business owners and their employees have always gotten the short end of the stick, paying an average of 18% more for insurance that often covers less than the policies sold to their larger competitors. And small businesses lack the purchasing power that larger employers have.

That's all changing, thanks to the health-care law signed by President Obama one year ago. Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act is helping small-business owners get quality, affordable coverage for their families and their employees.

Here are some important things to know:

* If you own a small business with fewer than 25 fulltime-equivalent employees, you may qualify for a small-business tax credit to help offset the costs of covering your employees. Small-business owners can visit to learn more.

* HHS estimates that up to 4 million small businesses could be eligible to receive these tax credits to make employees’ health coverage more affordable. And the tax credits will be worth a combined total of $40 billion over ten years.

* Employer-based plans that provide health insurance to retirees ages 55-64 can get financial help through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. This program is designed to maintain health coverage for retirees, workers, and employers. Visit to learn more.

* If one of your workers has been uninsured because of a pre-existing condition, he or she may be eligible to join the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. To find out about plans available in your state, please visit:

* If you are in a new insurance plan, insurance companies cannot charge you or your workers a deductible or copays for recommended preventive services; e.g., mammograms, flu shots. Click here to find a list of preventive services that will be covered without copays.

In addition, insurance companies are prohibited from capping the dollar amount of care that you or your employees can receive in a lifetime, or dropping coverage due to an honest mistake on an application when someone gets sick. And they have to spend at least 80% of your premium dollars on health care and quality improvements, instead of overhead, salaries or administrative expenses -- or provide you and your workers a rebate.

To learn more about the specific provisions of the Affordable Care Act, visit:

SOURCES: [photo],, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, White House

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