What Businesses Need to Know About Obamacare Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act has started and we've got the ultimate guide to help business owners like yourself navigate the changes.

By Linda Lacina

The American Interest

It's October 1 and the kickoff for the latest phase of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has finally begun with enrollment in state and federal exchanges that will provide health insurance subsidies for individuals and businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Today, pricing should be available for most exchanges, allowing businesses and individuals to start the complicated process of sussing out what their health care budgets will look like in 2014.

As you review your options regarding these complex reforms, know we're here to help. We've created a number of resources to help businesses of any size plan for the changes. Here are some of the highlights.

1. Getting started. Your first step is to determine what's required of your business.
Companies fewer than 50 employees aren't required to offer health care, but might want to check out the new business health exchanges since your company might be eligible for subsidies if it offers coverage.
Read more: Fewer than 50 employees? Your Main Obamacare Options
Companies with 50 or more employees were granted a year-long extension in July to comply with many of the new law's main provisions. These companies should take this year's extension to heart -- and research choices carefully, including public and private exchanges.
Read more: More Than 50 Staffers? Your Obamacare Gameplan
Self-employed individuals, or sole proprietors, are viewed as individuals under the new reforms. This group has a range of options, including purchasing coverage through state or federal individual exchanges, keeping current plans that happen to be grandfathered in, or forgoing coverage entirely and paying a fine.
Read more: What the Self-Employed Need to Know About Obamacare

2. Weighing options. Healthcare is a complex issue, but fortunately you do have a range of choices. You could opt out of exchanges altogether and self-fund your company's plan, sidestepping some of the law's pricier requirements. Or your state's exchanges might have such a diverse range of options, you might find the right fit for your staff there.
Read more: Self-Funding Pros and Cons, One Business Weighs Its Healthcare Options, Most Business Exchanges Will be Ready in 2014

3. Communicating with your staff. Regardless of what your company chooses, keep your employees in the loop. Survey your staffers to know what features they might want most. And make sure to orient them for the changes that are coming their way, whether you're offering coverage or not.
Read more: Prep Your Staff for Obamacare, Changing Your Health Plan Due to Obamacare? Survey Staffers First

4. Staying updated. The health reforms have phased in piece by piece but certain requirements could still be further delayed or modified. Make sure to stay updated through our ongoing coverage and keep an eye on the other online resources we've collected for you that offer comprehensive, at-a-glance help.
Read more: Entrepreneur's On-going Obamacare Coverage, Obamacare Answers a Few Clicks Away

Linda Lacina

Entrepreneur Staff

Linda Lacina is the former managing editor at Entrepreneur.com. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Family Circle. Email her at llacina@entrepreneur.com. Follow her at @lindalacina on Twitter. 

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