The U.S. health care industry is undergoing a transformation. As legislation, incentives, and benefits roll out over the next few years, small businesses should seize the opportunities created by health care reform, including new and more affordable options for insurance coverage.
Here are five resources that will help keep small-business owners informed about all of the changes.
- IRS small business health care tax credit qualification guide. As an incentive for small businesses to provide health insurance coverage to their employees, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides a tax credit to small businesses, including tax-exempt organizations. To aid in determining your eligibility, the IRS provides a handy, three-step guide.
- Health insurance option tool. Under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides small-business owners with an unbiased tool to compare the costs and benefits of health plans on the HealthCare.gov website. The database currently consists of more than 530 health insurers and 2,700 coverage plans; it enables users to filter search results by plan type, deductible, co-pay, prescription drug coverage, Health Savings Account (HSA) eligibility, and more.
- CDC workplace wellness initiative. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Healthier Worksite Initiative website is chock-full of information to help your small business reduce health care costs and improve employee health and morale. Implementing wellness programs, such as tobacco-free campaigns, employee screenings, and incentive-based health risk assessments, can lead to a 20 to 50 percent reduction in health care costs, according to a U.S. Corporate Wellness study. What’s even more exciting: The Affordable Care Act offers up to some $200 million in grants to small businesses with fewer than 100 employees to encourage the launch of new wellness programs.
- Health debit cards. With the increase in consumer-paid out-of-pocket expenses and the move toward consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs), the health debit card has a huge potential to streamline how employees pay for medical expenses. When tied to a government-approved health reimbursement account (HRA) or health savings account (HSA), contributions deposited onto a health debit card are tax-deductible by the small employer and tax-free for the employee. Health debit cards, like the Intuit Health Debit Card, can be used for deductibles, premiums, physician co-pays, prescription medications, and more.
- Health benefits glossary. If the term “donut hole” conjures up images of tasty morsels from Dunkin’ Donuts and not Medicare, then you have some catching up to do. Right now, millions of Americans and small-business owners wish they had a CliffsNotes study guide for the 900-plus pages of the Affordable Care Act, which is the doctrine of health reform. What’s the next best thing? The glossary set up and managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, which defines 127 terms.