LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- October 1 is a major step toward implementing the Affordable Care Act. That's when the insurance marketplace will open.
Individuals without coverage will be able to choose a healthcare plan. The marketplace will also have options for small businesses.
"Small businesses, those with 50 or fewer workers, don't have to provide healthcare coverage," said Rep. Ron Kind. "But for those who are providing healthcare coverage, they're eligible for a tax credit. Up to 30 percent this year, up to 50 percent next year."
On October 1 the Small Business Health Options Program or the SHOP marketplace will be open to employers with 50 or fewer workers who want access to coverage plan.
"By pooling amongst themselves have more competitive rates for them to choose from and then coupled with the tax credits, for small businesses with 25 or fewer workers, they can off set the premium expenses they're paying today," Rep. Kind said.
Businesses can choose a plan in the SHOP Marketplace and how much they will pay towards an employees premium. It's an added cost for the business but Eric Ness, the WI District Director for the Small Business Administration says there are perks.
"The benefits is, if you're providing health insurance coverage, naturally it's good to retain employees and get employees," Ness said.
There are limits on the number of employees a company can have in order to enter the marketplace, but once you're in, you're in.
"If you come in to the SHOP program and say you grow your business, so you maybe have 40 employees and go up to 200 employees, once you're in, you're grandfathered in," Ness said.
Whether or not a small business provides coverage is up to the individual employer but they do have to notify workers about whether or not healthcare is available before October 1.
Small businesses that provided healthcare coverage between 2010 and 2013 may also be eligible to collect tax credits for prior years. For more information on that and options available for small businesses you can log on to SBA.Gov/Healthcare.
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