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Calling all small businesses: Stop big increases in health insurance premiums by making sure all workers have some form of coverage

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 2/11/2015 Frank Knapp
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Open enrollment for health insurance through the marketplaces has now started. Every citizen is required by law to have some form of health insurance with exceptions for certain low-income individuals.
If you have a policy through the marketplace, go shopping on to see if the policy you have still fits your healthcare and financial needs. If you need help locally, it's available for free. Find an organization with certified navigators by clicking here. You can also contact an independent insurance agent or broker who has been certified to help you find a policy on the marketplace at no additional costs.
While the Affordable Care Act has been tremendously successful in making health insurance more affordable primarily due to the financial assistance provided through the marketplaces, there are still about 10.5 million uninsured who meet the federal requirements to have coverage.
So why are these uninsured not obtaining health insurance through the marketplace like about 9 million have already done?
A large part of the answer lies in the statistics. The biggest numbers of these uninsured are between 19 and 34 with comparatively lower incomes.
Reaching these uninsured is now the major goal of the federal government. But this effort isn't only important for the Obama Administration, it is important to every small business owner because the healthcare costs of the uninsured are passed on to every employer and individual who has insurance in the form of higher premiums.
So I am challenging every small business owner to identify their workers who don't have insurance. Then take action.
1.Tell them about the significant federal penalty for not having insurance. That penalty, paid through the employee's federal tax return, will be a minimum of $325 for not having coverage in 2015 and goes up to a minimum of $695 for being uninsured in 2016.
2.Give them the instructions on contacting a healthcare navigator or insurance agent/broker who can help them find very affordable coverage, possibly as low as $20 a month, for very good health insurance. Better yet, have a navigator or insurance agent/broker come to your place of business to talk to the uninsured and any of your employees about coverage.
3.Voluntarily offer group health insurance through the marketplace. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) offers the small employer and non-profits competitive plans and up to a 50% tax credit for qualifying small businesses and non-profits. Group health insurance plans are also available outside the marketplace but tax credits won't be available.
4.And if your uninsured employees say that they simply can't afford coverage through the marketplace even with the financial assistance, maybe you need to think about increasing their pay.
Small business owners, take responsibility for helping yourself better afford future health insurance by helping your uninsured workers get covered.
"UnConflicted" is the small business advocacy blog of Frank Knapp, Jr., President & CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. Visit our website to join, subscribe to our newsletter, or follow the issues affecting small businesses in SC:

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