Part 1: 2010-2011
American healthcare is poised for some pretty radical changes over the next several years – changes that are relevant to everyone from the youngest child to the oldest retiree. If you’re a small business owner or an employee of a small business, you’re probably wondering whether the new laws and regulations will impact you. Read on to learn about potential changes to your insurance and healthcare premiums.
Changes Starting in 2010
The upcoming healthcare changes will be phased in over the next few years. Although the bulk of the new regulations are slated for 2011, 2013, and 2014, there are two significant changes taking place in 2010.
During the period of 2010-2013, as the new regulations are gradually introduced, qualified small business owners are eligible for a tax credit of 35% on their contributions to health insurance premiums for their employees. Known as the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, this perk is available only to small business with fewer than 25 employees and average wages of less than $50,000 annually.
In addition, parents will now be permitted to include adult children (up to age 26) on the coverage offered by tax-qualified, employer-provided health plans.
Changes starting in 2011
From 2011-2015, small business employers will be eligible to receive federal funding if they provide their staff with wellness programs.
Small businesses will also be permitted to form collectives or alliances in order to purchase employee health insurance policies at better rates. The online programs that will make this possible, known as SHOP or Small Business Health Options Programs, will receive state-level funding from federal sources.
You can also expect to see some more specific changes to permissible medical expenses. The definition of qualified medical expenses will be altered to exclude over-the-counter medications. This affects all Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Archer Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs), as well as reimbursements through Health Flexible Spending Arrangements (Health FSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). The annual limit on allowable medical expenses from flexible spending accounts will be capped at $2,500.
Finally, a “cafeteria plan,” which allows employees to pick and choose benefits as needed, will be introduced for small business staff and the self-employed beginning in 2011.
We’ll explore some more details on the upcoming healthcare changes in our next post.