Top Officials Outline How ACA Helps Small Businesses Nationwide

Millions of small business owners nationwide may be a little worried about the ways in which the coming Affordable Care Act coverage mandate will affect their bottom lines and companies overall. Now, two of the federal government's top officials involved with implementing the law say it can be a very positive thing for many companies.

There are many positives for small business owners and their employees once more aspects of the ACA go into effect, including the fact that some 3.3 million workers who received insurance through these companies in 2011 received rebates to help them better afford coverage, and more may be on the way for the 2012 tax year, according to a joint report from Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Karen Mills, who is the top executive at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Altogether, the most recent round of rebates averaged payouts of $174 per person.

"For many small businesses, offering health coverage is a key to recruiting skilled employees," they wrote. "For others, it's a way to take care of their workers. For some, it can even be a measure of their business's success. The health care law allows small employers to offer health coverage in a way that makes sense for their business and works for their bottom line."

Further, small business owners in particular will likely be able to find more affordable health insurance options in general through the federal government's Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges that will be up and running starting in 2014, the report said. Currently, small business owners pay about 18 percent more for the same type of coverage as their larger counterparts thanks to the sheer volume of insurance they purchase (and thus reduce insurers' risk), but these marketplaces are designed to help depress these costs by making independent companies into one larger buying force.

About 95 percent of all companies employ fewer than 50 employees, the companies which these exchanges are designed to help, altogether employing some 23 million Americans, the report said. Further, some estimates show that thanks to more affordable insurance conditions, an additional 1.5 million small businesses may be created nationwide in the coming years.

Owners may want to consider all of their ongoing small business insurance costs with the ACA's coverage mandate taking effect next year. Some may have to pay more for employees' health insurance, and therefore might want to see if they can reduce expenses related to other plans, including those for liability insurance.