Small business health insurance options
Under health reform, if you already provide health insurance for your employees, you don't automatically have to change your coverage, unless your insurance company cancels your health plan.
If you don't offer your employees health insurance and they don't get coverage in some other way (such as a spouse), they'll need to buy their own individual health plan, unless they qualify for an exemption under health reform. They could apply through the Exchange (www.wahealthplanfinder.org) during open enrollment, or they might qualify for a special enrollment period.
Some small businesses can buy a small group health plan through WAhealthplanfinder.org, but Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest is the only company selling these plans for the 2014 plan year. Unfortunately Kaiser only sells in Clark and Cowlitz counties, so this option is only available to employers in these two counties.
Other health insurance companies in Washington state made a business decision to not sell small group health plans through WAhealthplanfinder.org for the 2014 plan year.
If you're looking for a small group plan for 2014, most insurance companies that sell individual health plans also sell small group plans.
Buying options for 2015
We are hearing that another insurance company might sell these plans on WAhealthplanfinder.org for the 2015 plan year. If you're interested in these plans and you're not in Clark or Cowlitz counties, stay tuned. There may be another option in 2015.
Options if you're self-employed
You might qualify to buy small group health insurance, even if you're self-employed.
- You must be in business for at least one year.
- In the previous tax year, you must have earned at least 75 percent of your income from the business. (If your business income falls below 75 percent in a tax year, you'll no longer qualify for small group insurance.)
- You must file an IRS Form 1040(C) or (F).
Small business health care tax credit
As part of health reform, some small businesses qualify to receive tax credits (www.irs.gov) for the cost of health insurance.
Many small-business trade associations, such as the the Small Business Majority (www.smallbusinessmajority.org), offer online calculators that show if your business qualifies for a tax credit.
Federal law required Washington state residents to buy their small group health plans through WAhealthplanfinder.org. to qualify for tax credits in 2014. However,these plans are only available in Clark and Cowlitz counties. To resolve this issue, the Internal Revenue Service announced that small businesses can still receive the tax credit even if they don’t buy a small group health plan through WAhealthplanfinder.org.
For more information on the small business health care tax credit (www.irs.gov), contact the Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov).