Ron Bliss guest col: Small businesses can hurt their employees while trying to help

Affordable Care Act requirements for providing health insurance for employees extends to businesses of 50 employees and more in 2016. That’s the law and those businesses must provide health insurance or get fined.

However, those with less than 50 employees are NOT facing a fine and should think twice before developing a SHOP health insurance plan for their employees.

While trying to help them, they could actually hurt them because of the way the ACA reads.

Those employees who are offered health insurance by their company HAVE to accept it, if it is considered affordable.

What that does, especially if most of your employees are low-wage, is create an impossible situation for them.

We had a client this week decide to either quit her job or go to part-time because her husband was required to either buy insurance through her company’s plan or buy it elsewhere – without subsidy from the government through the federal marketplace.

While her insurance was only $75 per month and was within the 9.5-percent or less limit for affordability based on her salary, the cost for her and her husband was $450 a month or 25 percent of their income.

The law reads that if the employee’s cost is 9.5 percent or less of the monthly salary, it is considered affordable. And, if it is affordable for the employee, the spouse and dependents are ineligible for a subsidy on the Federal Marketplace.

The couple was caught between a rock and a hard place because if they chose not to pay the $450 per month they were facing a $1380 penalty. If just one person in the family is not covered, all are fined. The fine for adults is a minimum of $695 each this year. The fine for children is half that or $342.75 each. The fine limit for one family is $2080.

The ACA law needs to drop the spouse and family provision and give the spouse and dependents the option of either buying through the company or going elsewhere for affordable insurance, it the cost for the entire family exceeds 9.5 percent.

But until the law is changed, companies need to protect their employees by not putting a burden on them to buy unaffordable health insurance.

For advice on health insurance on your small business, come by and see us at 2307 N. Carson Street in Carson City or call us on our office number, 775-883-3414.

Our help is free of charge. If we can help, you can also call us at 775-450-6769, 775-224-7169, 775-450-7754 or 775-450-6867.

We are not limited to Northern Nevada. You can also call one of our two Southern Nevada lines – 702- 721-3657 or 702-721-3810. Our office is located at 2307 N. Carson Street in Carson City, but we help clients throughout Nevada and California.

Ron Bliss is a former long-time sports writer who has been doing health insurance since 2009. He is certified on both Covered California and the Nevada Health Link and can sell products on and off both exchanges. Affordable Healthcare Pros also offers a variety of dental plans to include dental-vision-hearing plans in both states, as well as a wide variety of Medicare supplements and other health supplemental products to include critical illness, short-term care, disability, plans to cover in-home or nursing home costs, accidents and hospital indemnity policies.)


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