Self-employed? Sign up for health care by March 31

U.S. Small Business AdministrationMarch 12, 2014 

There are only a couple weeks to go during the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period, so now is the time for self-employed business owners to sign up for a plan.

With new Health Insurance Marketplaces (also referred to as exchanges) open, self-employed business owners and other consumers can purchase private insurance coverage from a range of options and, depending on income and residency, they potentially can qualify for additional subsidies like Medicaid or tax credits.

Coming up, there will be some important dates self-employed business owners will need to know if they want to sign up for coverage for this year.

Open enrollment for 2014 coverage ends March 31. An exception would include a qualifying life event that provides you with a special enrollment period, such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of a job.

If you don’t have health coverage in 2014, you may have to pay a penalty.

The next open enrollment period is proposed to begin on Nov. 15 for health insurance coverage that will begin Jan. 1, 2015.

Why enroll?

Small business owners have historically paid as much as 18 percent more for health care coverage than larger companies. The Affordable Care Act helps level the playing field, slows cost growth and, with consumer protections like insurance rate reviews and a ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, it provides greater certainty that small business owners can access the coverage they need when they need it.

To find an insurance plan that meets your needs, check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services insurance finder tool. By answering just a few simple questions, you’ll be able to locate health insurance plans in your state and explore whether there are facilities in your area that provide free or reduced-cost health care.

To browse coverage options, assess potential subsidies or purchase your plan online through the individual marketplace, go to www.healthcare.gov.

For more information about other provisions that affect self-employed business owners under the Affordable Care Act, visit www.sba.gov/healthcare.

Or contact SBA staff members in the Seattle District Office at 206-553-5231. They are ready and willing to answer your questions.

Calvin W. Goings is a regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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