Obamacare Answers a Few Clicks Away

Obamacare Answers a Few Clicks Away
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Don't know whether your firm is big enough to be subject to Obamacare's main provisions? Confused about how to count your seasonal workers in determining your business's size? Many of the answers to your most pressing questions about the sweeping health reform law may be at your fingertips.

We've assembled links to a few online resources that may help guide small-business owners as major provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect in the coming months.

1. The Basics

Those just getting started should consult a special portal for health-reform resources added to the government's small-business information clearinghouse Business USA. Through an interactive tool on Business.USA.gov/healthcare, businesses can provide information on their size, location and insurance needs to generate a customized list of articles prepared by agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Small Business Administration.

Many of those users will arrive at the federal government's revamped health-reform website, HealthCare.gov, and its section specifically for small businesses. This site includes a live-chat feature that can connect you to a chat assistant in minutes, a click-through questionnaire to provide guidance, Q&As on the law's basics, and information on what you need to know if your business already provides coverage.

Recent must reads: How can I get ready for SHOP?, outlining the steps needed to prepare for Oct. 1 and enrollment in the new health-care marketplaces; and What is the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment?, a rundown on financial obligations to be imposed on some large businesses that don’t offer coverage meeting at least minimum standards. The government recently delayed these payments to January 2015. The page includes a link to a minimum value calculator to see if your coverage meets requirements, and guidance on whether it's affordable for your employees.

2. Mythbusting

While content on the government's Small Business Administration site can overlap with HealthCare.gov, its blog is worth a read. Articles bust Obamacare "myths," detail key ACA terms that small businesses should know and note new incentives for workplace wellness programs.

Recent must reads: A piece last month debunked the misconception that Obamacare won't affect employers in states without their own insurance marketplaces. Another article, Self-Employed? Learn What the Affordable Care Act Means for You, outlines the coverage options available to self-employed business owners. The SBA also recently announced that, in conjunction with the Small Business Majority -- an organization that pushed for Obamacare -- it is holding an Affordable Care Act 101 weekly webinar series on Thursdays.

3. Charts, graphs and interactive features

The Kaiser Family Foundation's health reform page features articles, poll results, infographics and FAQs, as well as interactive tools including a subsidy calculator which may be useful for solo entrepreneurs as well as those with employees. The site also gives an up-to-date status of each state's progress in establishing health-insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges. Quizzes test business owners' knowledge on the law, with the results easily sharable on social media.

Recent must read: Employer Responsibility Under the Affordable Care Act: This infographic gives employers a concise snapshot of their obligations under the law.

4. Videos

The National Federation of Independent Business, which led the legal fight against Obamacare, has a series of nuts-and-bolts "healthcare minute" videos and articles on what employers may need to do to comply. While NFIB's site contains a big dose of criticism for Obamacare, it also offers useful interactive features such as a healthcare tax-credit calculator.

Recent must read: In one short video and summary, How are Seasonal Workers Counted? NFIB spokesman Kevin Kuhlman explains that seasonal employees count toward a business's number of "full-time equivalent" workers, which might help classify an employer as "large" and potentially subject to penalties.

Updated: This article was recently updated to include significant changes to the federal government’s HealthCare.gov

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