As California leads the nation in working to implement the Affordable Care Act, our state's small businesses are asking good questions about their responsibilities in helping to bring historic change to health care.
Through meetings, forums and reading the results of research like April's Gallup Poll, Covered California is getting a clearer view of the questions small business owners have about the Affordable Care Act.
While it is clear that many have questions and uncertainties about the Affordable Care Act, we have learned that once small business owners understand the Affordable Care Act, the potential benefits of the law will be readily apparent.
Covered California's priority over the next few months is to help small businesses understand the Affordable Care Act. We are about to engage in an aggressive, statewide outreach and education campaign working with chambers of commerce, industry associations and others to explain the law and its benefits to small employers in the state.
We will ensure that small employers realize the Affordable Care Act's coverage mandates are only applicable to employers with more than 50 employees and clear up other details that may be true for one state, but not California.
The current small group market rules have been in place for more than 20 years, so the confusion created by learning new rules is expected. But, for many small businesses, the changes will only improve their options at renewal. In 2014, small employers are no longer subject to underwriting, a term for the application process which evaluates your risk and applies a premium increase or discount based on the overall group risk. Also, coverage can no longer be denied for pre-existing conditions.
As we work to educate on the Affordable Care Act, more small employers will realize they are encouraged but not mandated to offer coverage to their employees. More may also realize they might receive a tax credit to help pay for their employee premiums. For many years, some small businesses offered employer-based coverage, even though it is not mandated to attract and retain quality workers and also compete with larger employers that routinely offer employee benefits.
Covered California believes that as we work to educate small business owners about the Affordable Care Act, more will see how the law will help to retain and attract quality workers and grow their business.