Dear Fellow Coloradan,
Since I was first elected to serve, I have worked to ensure that we do everything we can to foster a healthy environment for the growth of small businesses in our state and across the country. Small businesses face unique challenges ranging from accessing the capital they need to expand to finding unique ways to serve their communities; but in the end, it comes down to people. An important factor to hiring and retaining a competitive workforce for any small business is the ability to provide reasonable and affordable health coverage for their employees - health care plans that meet their needs and provide reliable coverage.
That is why when Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, I fought to ensure that the law helps small businesses provide their employees with access to affordable and quality health coverage. As the last of ACA's provisions take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, there are a number of credits and exemptions that may help small businesses, including:
Businesses with fewer than 100 employees can shop for the best health care plan that suits their needs in an online Affordable Insurance Exchange marketplace. This marketplace is designed to provide employers with the ability to negotiate premium prices with insurance companies by banding together to expand their purchasing power. This marketplace also will provide similar options that larger employers already receive, allowing small business owners the opportunity to offer competitive options similar to their larger counterparts.
Small businesses that are already providing health care for no more than 25 employees - with average wages below $50,000 - can qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of the cost of the health plan. Nonprofits can qualify for up to a 25-percent credit. And in 2014, this tax credit goes up to 50 percent, while nonprofits may qualify for up to a 35-percent tax credit. To find out more about the tax credit, read the IRS's handy fact sheet.
Small businesses that provide health insurance to retirees aged 55-64 may be able to lower the cost of premiums for all employees, reducing their costs in the process through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program: http://www.errp.gov.
Explore the many ways the ACA can help your small business using the resources above and take advantage of this important reform, which will go into full effect in 2014, by planning your company's health insurance plan beginning in October 2013.