Small business owners need to fully understand how the health care tax credit will affect them this coming year. For small employers who have less than 25 employees, pay an average wage of less than $50,000 and pay at least half of employee health insurance premiums, a tax credit may be waiting. A new version of the health care tax credit will be available in 2014, but for the years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit is 35% for small businesses and 25% for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.
This can equate to large savings so it’s important not to overlook this credit benefit. Even if you are a small business employer who did not owe any taxes because of other deductions, you can carry the credit back or forward for other years. Another benefit outlined in the credit is that since the amount of the health insurance premium payments are more than the total credit, eligible small businesses are still able to claim a business expense deduction for premiums more than the actual credit. Many small business owners may not be aware of this and through appropriate awareness, more small business owners can get the funds they deserve.
Small tax-exempt employers should be aware that the credit is refundable, so even if there is no taxable income, they can be eligible for the credit as a refund as long as it does not exceed the income tax withholding and Medicare tax liability. Keep in mind that if you can benefit from the health care tax credit this year but forgot to claim it, there is still opportunity to file amended claim. Talk to a tax expert to determine where savings can be found and to see if you qualify for this useful tax credit available for small-business owners.
For more detailed information visit www.IRS.gov.
By now we all know that the State and Federal Marketplaces offering a side-by-side comparison environment are set to go live October 1st of this year as part of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — better known as Obamacare.
These public marketplaces break down as follows.
1. 16 state based marketplaces (+ DC).
2. The Federally facilitated exchange — which will administer the online marketplace in 27 states.
2. A State/Federal partnership exchange in the remaining 7 states.
What people might be less familiar with is the number of private health insurance exchanges that currently exist or will be launching soon that offer a multi-carrier environment similar to what will be offered by the Public exchanges funded by the Government. What is yet to be determined by these private exchanges is how they will process subsidies that shoppers may qualify for.
A partial list of some private multi-carrier exchanges include
1. eHealthinsurance.com - National exchange. Offers health plans from over 180 health insurers. Has been in operation since 1997. Is working with Gov’t to be able to process Federal subsidies for customers who enroll through their online marketplace.
2. Getinsured.com – National exchange, has been in operation since 2005
3. American Westbrook Insurance Services – Represents 14 insurers in 43 states
4. FloridaHealthChoices.com – Currently Serves small groups 2-50, but will expand to include plans for individuals and families
5. HealthPass.com – Offers plans for small businesses & sole proprietors in NY from EmblemHealth, Oxford, and Guardian.
6. Insurexsolutions.com – Offers health insurance plans in select markets from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Assurant & Humana
7. HSAinsurance.com - In operation since 1969, offers plans in MA & RI
8. Extendhealth.com – Primary focus on Employers as well as Retirees, Offer plans from many regional Blue Cross Blue Shield plans as well as national carriers.
This is only a partial list, as many multi-carrier marketplaces that focus on group market were excluded as well as others that may have been omitted that serve the individual and family marketplace.
My guess is that some of these mature private insurance marketplaces, like eHealthinsurance for example, will have a much more user friendly interface as they are a technology company that has been doing this for more than 15 years. They also offer a substantial amount of choice. If these private exchanges are able to process subsidies, and have a deep enough roster of participating health insurers in your state, they should be a great option to continue to purchase individual and family health plans in 2014 and beyond.
Written by Jeff Levy
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jefflevyhis
The Federal and State health insurance marketplaces that will begin enrolling individuals & families in health insurance plans beginning October of this year promise to provide more options than ever before. However, it will likely not be an easy process if you are not prepared.
There are a handful of things you should research or think about before you begin shopping for a plan for you and your family
1. Become familiar with different health insurance types, and what might best fit your needs.
2. Make sure you understand the basics of how health insurance works such as deductibles, co-payments, and out-of-pocket maximums etc.
3. Put together a list of questions that you might require answers for, such as benefits when traveling out of state, or other items that might be specific to your needs.
4. Know how much you can afford or are willing to budget for your health coverage. This will determine whether you will be likely be shopping for a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Plan
5. Start pulling together tax returns or other documents that might help determine your household income and eligibility for subsidies
6. If you are currently covered under an employer sponsored plan, attempt to find out whether they plan to continue to offer coverage in 2014.
7. Get health insurance quotes from top health insurers in your state now. If yous are young and healthy and might not be eligible for federal subsidies, your health insurance premiums will likely rise dramatically effective January 2014 according to most experts. However, some national carriers offer a 12 month rate lock when you enroll, so if you are able to secure a policy in advance, you may be able to enjoy significant saving for 6 months or more.
Some states are getting way more federal funds than others to put towards customer assistance which could ultimately affect how many people get properly enrolled in health insurance under the new exchanges. Florida plans on spending about $6 million to reach about 4 million uninsured residents as they help them enroll for coverage in the federal health law’s marketplace in a few months. Maryland will be spending significantly more than this, about $24.8 million on their 730,000 uninsured residents. This is a very wide variation and it seems that it will likely affect how many uninsured people obtain coverage through these exchanges.
Some states with the highest rates of uninsured residents such as Florida and Texas are getting far less money per uninsured person from the federal government. Some states with lower rates of uninsured residents are getting more money such as Maryland, Vermont and Rhode Island based on an analysis from Kaiser Health News. This is because states using the federal government to run their marketplaces are getting less funds than the states who are choosing to set them up themselves. States like Maryland are also using state funds to support their customer assistance efforts and this is furthering the gap even more.
Jon Kingsdale, a consultant who assisted with the Massachusetts health insurance exchange in 2006, says this spending difference will have a huge impact on enrollment. Consumer assistance is very important in getting people to understand and navigate effectively the online health insurance exchanges. Many polls show that most Americans are unfamiliar with the health law and everything that goes into it. The online marketplaces open October 1st, and the federal government is hoping they will be easy to use and help get more people insured. But adequate customer assistance is key to ensuring people understand how to use and understand the website. Many people have never applied for health insurance and many will not be internet savvy. Quality assistance could make a big difference in which states see higher insured rates and which ones do not.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration scrapped plans to cut by 2.2% the rates paid to health insurance companies that are taking part in the Medicare Advantage program. There were many people who opposed the cuts including over 100 members of Congress and the health insurance companies themselves. Insurers put together a convincing campaign to convince lawmakers that the cuts did not make sense.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced that it will be changing the way they calculate reimbursement rates and payments for Medicare Advantage will actually increase by 3.3%. The CMS’s acting principal deputy administrator, Jonathon Blum, said the policies announced furthers the agency’s goal of improving payment processes and helps ensure the programs stability over time. It also proves to preserve beneficiary choice which many have felt has been at risk.
The Kaiser Family Foundation states that 27% of Medicare beneficiaries get their benefits from private health insurers that make up the Medicare Advantage program according to Sandhya Somashekhar’s article on The Washington Post’s website. If the original cut would have been approved it would have been one of several cuts aimed at Medicare Advantage. The plans could still face further reductions under the 2010 health law.
Senator Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement that CMS made the right choice to reverse their course and implement a rate that will keep choices and ensure continued and consistent access to top quality plans. It will allow for more affordable care for beneficiaries throughout the nation enrolled in these popular plans. Medicare Advantage is an important part of the health care industry and many feel it needs to be protected for further budget cuts.