News & Politics
JUST THE FACTS 86% of America’s businesses are exempt from the shared responsibility requirement to provide insurance. Payrolls of $500,000 or below are completely exempt; payrolls between $500,000 and $750,000 face only a graduated fee if they opt not to provide health insurance. 98.8% of small business owners will pay no surcharge because the limits are set so high—with the surcharge assessed only on the portion of any income over $1 million for a couple or $500,000 for an individual. The Health Insurance Exchange is initially targeted to serve small business employees and the uninsured. Small businesses gradually increase their participation: o in 2013, firms with up to 25 employees can enter the exchange; o in 2014, firms with up to 50 employees can enter; o in 2015, firms with up to 100 employees can enter; and o in 2015 and beyond, the Commissioner can allow larger employers as appropriate. OFFICE OF SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI OCTOBER 29, 2009 SMALL BUSINESS GUIDE Millions of small businesses together power the American economy. During economic crisis, these businesses operate close to the margin, or don’t survive at all. But their innovation and entrepreneurship put them in the lead in helping our economy recover. For American small businesses, health care has been an unrelenting headache, with: small businesses’ health care costs growing 129% since 2000, workers paying an average of 18% for premiums than those with larger firms, and administrative costs eating up two and half times more of their premiums than larger businesses pay. In fact, less than half of America’s smallest firms can afford to offer any health care benefits at all. That means 28 million uninsured Americans are small business owners, employees, and their families. That’s 60% of our nation’s entire uninsured population. But help is on the way. Health insurance reform means access to affordable and quality health care for America’s small businesses--and assistance in providing it. Ending the insurance companies’ stranglehold on your local market introduces competition for the best prices and best coverage. Curbing skyrocketing health care costs will grow our economy for years to come. WHAT’S IN IT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES? AFFORDABLE COVERAGE Through a new Health Insurance Exchange, small business owners or workers can do one-stop comparison shopping for an affordable plan that offers: lower rates that large groups and firms get, stable pricing from year to year, lower administrative costs, and choice of quality plans for employees, including a public health insurance option to compete with private plans to lower prices and improve benefits. TAX CREDITS For small businesses that want to offer health insurance coverage, a tax credit over a two-year period will help them transition to or continue providing health benefits to their employees -- paying up to 50% of their costs based on size and average wages. QUALITY COVERAGE Affordable plans will have a guaranteed set of minimum benefits--to eliminate fine print surprises that often face those who don’t have the purchasing power of a large corporation or group. Health insurance reforms will mean: no more “pre-existing conditions,” no selective refusals to renew small business coverage, no more premium ratings for gender, occupation or previous illness or medical condition that unfairly drive up costs for some, caps on what you pay out-of-pocket, and no cap on what insurance companies will pay for your coverage. HELP WITH WELLNESS & PREVENTION Small businesses that want to promote healthy behavior: get access to new grants to provide workplace wellness programs, and have access to health plans for their workers that provide free preventive care. IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED For those small businesses with workers who have been uninsured for several months, or denied a policy based on “pre-existing conditions, a high risk pool will immediately offer insurance, and assistance to help pay the premiums. KEEP YOUR COBRA In the transition to affordable coverage for all, workers who lose their jobs can keep their COBRA coverage until the new Exchange is up and running, allowing them to comparison shop for a new plan. ACCESS TO THE BEST DOCTORS The best doctors in America can see patients--even those who own or work for small businesses in rural areas--through telehealth networks and telehealth resource centers established through grants.