March 12, 2021
This week’s passing of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus federal relief package is good news for small business owners in Utah. Among the many benefits of the bill, small business owners or employees who get health insurance through the Healthcare.gov exchange will have more help in paying their premiums through increased subsidies.
Additionally, a provision of the bill expands the number of middle-class Utahns who can get help with the cost of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if premiums cost more than 8.5% of their incomes. Currently under the ACA, people who earn 400% of the federal poverty level aren’t eligible for the tax credits, also known as subsidies, that help offset the cost of buying health plans. That means a single person who earns more than about $51,000 isn’t eligible, nor is a family of three that makes about $87,000. The new legislation will mean more many more small business owners and employees qualify for a subsidy and can get coverage.
“Because so many small business owners, especially sole proprietors and companies with less than 10 employees, rely on the exchange to get health insurance for themselves and their employees, this added assistance is going to be very valuable,” says Doug Burton, President of Utah Independent Business Coalition.
Another special exception being made this year, unrelated to the COVID relief bill is that Healthcare.gov has added a special enrollment period (created by executive order), that runs through May 15th and allows anyone who needs health insurance to enroll and get coverage through the exchange. “It’s critical for business owners to make sure their employees are aware of the changes, and the opportunities they have to get access to healthcare right now,” says Rebecca Yates, owner of Ark Insurance Solutions (a member of UIBC). “For the first time ever, the federal government will pick up most of the tab, and as business owners it’s our duty to make sure our people have access to that support.”
Who will benefit the most:
- Part-time employees, gig workers, and 1099’s. Most in these categories are not offered health insurance. Often this type of work leaves people uninsured.
- Employees who work for small businesses. Many small businesses do not offer insurance or offer unaffordable plans. The increases subsidies and the expanded enrollment window gives these businesses an opportunity to help their employees get affordable insurance, without the company paying for it.
- Adults that are 55 to 64. Their premiums are up to 3 times that of their younger counterparts. The new subsidy will cap premiums at 8.5% of their income, which is estimated to be a 61% savings for this demographic, according the Congressional Budget Office.