5 resources that explain insurance options

As health care practitioners, optometrists may have a leg up on other small business owners when it comes to new insurance options. But as employers, optometrist have many questions about the new health insurance marketplaces.

The marketplaces will bring new options to small businesses.

The marketplaces will bring new options to small businesses that typically do not qualify for the discounts of large group plans. For those with 50 or fewer employees, all health insurance marketplaces will offer the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Optometrists who do not have employees, and therefore do not qualify for SHOP, can still obtain coverage through the options for individuals and families.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and other federal agencies offer resources to help employers understand their rights and responsibilities under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA)—and assess coverage options.

Health insurance information

The official HHS health care reform website offers a variety of reform-related topics, including how the ACA affects individuals, families, and businesses. Beginning in October, visitors will be able to obtain insurance through the website using the appropriate state health insurance exchange. And optometric practices with questions about SHOP may call the new Health Insurance Marketplace Small Employer Call Center at 800-706-7893.

Tax benefits and responsibilities

The IRS Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions page offers information on new health insurance coverage and financial assistance options, including the Premium Tax Credit, for individuals and families. It also covers new benefits and responsibilities for employers.

Small business resources

The U.S. Small Business Association outlines aspects of the ACA pertinent to the self-employed, employers with fewer than 25 employees, and those with up to 50 or more employees.

Legal guidance on labor provisions

The U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration offers detailed information on providing coverage to employees, including guidance on the notices employers must give employees. Optometrists may wish to review the document on "grandfathered" health benefits, including vision benefits. 

Business USA

Business USA offers resources about the ACA for businesses of all sizes. An interactive tool allows employers to get tailored information on how the health care law may affect them based on their business' size, location and plans for offering health benefits to workers next year.

October 2, 2013

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