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How The Affordable Care Act Is Going To Affect Your Business

Aileen LeBlanc

The Affordable Care Act marketplace of insurance options goes online October 1. Businesses both small and large have some choices to make, but there are some resources available to help you with that complicated process.

Meet Alex

Alex is an animated bean who walks you through a simple (and cute) tour of the Affordable Care Act at insureKS.org. He asks questions about your situation (it’s confidential) and then tells you how the new rules might apply to you.

Credit InsureKS.org
Screenshot from insureKS.org, a website that can help individuals and businesses understand how the Affordable Care Act will affect them.

There is also a calculator on the site which can estimate your premium costs, given your input on: age, household size, gender, geographic location and tobacco use.

Businesses – Small and Large

Some businesses are worried that Obamacare might not be good for business. Michael Aumack with the Small Business Administration disagrees.

“For the first time it may be that small businesses will be able to buy, offer or think about offering insurance, because the premiums are going to be much lower with SHOP, the Small Business Health Options Program, then it would have been, this year or last year," he says.

But Aumack hears about businesses who are thinking about getting around the rules. One requires small businesses with 50 or more employees to provide insurance coverage, which does not mean that the employer must pay the full premiums - but they cannot charge the workers more than 9.5 percent of gross monthly income.

Yes, this is complicated.

Employers may try to get under the 50 mark by cutting worker hours or using more part-time people. But Michael Aumack says that the calculation is for a 30-hour work week and that it’s a combination of the people that are actually working more than 30 hours a week and a combination of all the other part-time staff.

If that all adds up to more than 50 full time equivalents, then they need to pay attention to the regulation.

Selling and Buying Insurance

The Affordable Care Act has funded a network of navigators who are trained to educate both individuals and businesses on the many, many nuances of the new health care rules. Joel Rutledge is an insurance agent or broker who can tailor and sell plans from various insurance companies.

“Even if you have a navigator that you’re working with, and not just solely working through an online portal, do you understand truly what a co-pay, a coinsurance and a deductible are and how they interact?" he says.

Rutledge says that the online insurance marketplace in Kansas will not be as competitive as we might hope because there are only two companies who have bid and accepted the regulations of the marketplace for our state – Blue Cross and Coventry.

Not a Dog in the Repeal Fight

In many cases, according to Rutledge, insurance companies have already adapted to the regulations of Obamacare and are moving on to their day to day business.

“Regardless of what Congress does, even if they were to wholesale do away with the Obamacare package, the insurance companies have already adapted," he says. "And the major insurance companies have stepped out and said ‘We don’t want this to be done away with because we’ve already made the changes.’"

KMUW hosted a live call-in show on Oct 9, 2013 to address questions about how the Affordable Care Act is going to affect individuals and businesses in Kansas. Check out our archive of those questions and answers from our experts to find out even more about how the Affordable Care Act is going to affect you.

Follow the on-going coverage of the Affordable Care Act with more reports from KMUW News and NPR.