Small Massachusetts Businesses: Key Health Reform Changes

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law by President Obama in March 2010, changes the way Americans shop for health insurance. The centerpiece of the ACA, the establishment of state health insurance exchanges, takes effect Jauary 1, 2014. Each state must offer individuals and small businesses access to the health insurance marketplace, and many individuals and small businesses will be eligible for subsidies and tax credits to offset costs.

For Massachusetts small businesses, the change is not as profound as it is for the rest of the country. The Massachusetts Health Reform law of 2006 created the Health Connector insurance exchange where small businesses can shop for employee health plans. The Massachusetts requirement that businesses either offer health insurance to their employees or pay a Fair Share Contribution is similar to mandates in the ACA.

Massachusetts legislators have made some changes to the state’s health reform law to ensure Massachusetts is in full compliance with provisions in the ACA. Additionally, the full implementation of the ACA comes with some new tax credits and grants for small businesses. The following are a few changes that affect small businesses in Massachusetts.

Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)

The ACA requires states offer a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) in their exchanges where businesses with fewer than 50 employees may purchase health plans as part of their employees’ benefit packages. Massachusetts businesses already have access to a similar program, the Business Express, through the Health Connector. By 2016, states must expand this access to include businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Small business tax credits

Businesses that purchase health insurance for their employees through the SHOP program may be eligible for tax credits. To qualify for this credit, a business must have fewer than 25 full-time employees with annual average salaries …read more

Source: CBS local Boston


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