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Healthcare.gov – Helping you Find the Right Plan for Your Small Business

Everyone from individuals to employers has questions about the Affordable Care Act of 2010 – whether it’s deciphering facts from myths or trying to understand what your options for healthcare coverage are now and in the future.
Likewise, in the shadow of the new law, whether you are an employer or self employed business owner, finding the right healthcare plan for you and your employees can be quite an undertaking.  Plans and benefits vary by provider, by state, by medical history, and by your needs – and doing the research can be time consuming and confusing.
Cognizant of the need to provide consumers and business owners’ with more information about the healthcare marketplace, in July 2010 the government launched a new Web site – Healthcare.gov.
Operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Healthcare.gov is an interactive, easy-to-use one-stop Web resource that intended to “…take some of the mystery out of shopping for health insurance”.
In addition to providing clarification about the Affordable Care Act  (what it means in practice and the timeline of changes), the site also aims to make comparison shopping for health insurance a whole lot easier using basic personalization features that help you determine plan options (and, in some instances, pricing information) and potential eligibility.
So what does the site mean for small business owners and employers? Here’s a breakdown of some of the tools and features that you can find at Healthcare.gov.
Find Healthcare Insurance Options for Your Small Business
If you are shopping for self-employed or employee health insurance plans, Healthcare.gov is truly a “first-of-its-kind” site in that it brings together data for more than 1,000 insurance carriers and 5,561 open products (3,531 in the small employer health insurance market) to help you understand your options and make more informed decisions about healthcare coverage.
Through an easy-to-use Insurance Finder Web tool,  it takes just two steps to find health insurance options that meet your needs and that you may be eligible for as a consumer or as an employer. While price estimates are now available for consumer plans, pricing will not be available for small employer plans until 2011.
The site has had some notable endorsements, including that of the Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine:
“For the first time, no matter where you live, you can go to one place and compare health plans available in your area. The site is nicely designed.  It’s easy to find information.  It tries to avoid the complicated language that you usually get when you’re shopping for a health plan.”  Read more on The White House Blog.
Assess and Compare Quality of Care
As well as comparing healthcare plans, Healthcare.gov also lets you compare the quality of care provided by the institutions who administer healthcare prevention and treatment services using the “Hospital Compare” tool.
Understand more about what the Affordable Care Act Means for Small Employers
Politics and political agendas aside, small business owners need to know what the Act means to them now and in the future, Healthcare.gov endeavors to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.
Whether you already provide health insurance as a benefit to your employees, need to provide that benefit, or are self-employed with no other employees, Healthcare.gov offers information for small employers about the Affordable Health Act and what it means now and in the future.
From the “Top 5 Things to Know” as a small employer, to information about redeemable tax credits and other benefits scheduled by 2014 (including the opportunity for small businesses to shop for insurance in an Exchange that will give them similar purchasing power as large businesses). Take a look at what the Act means for small business here.
Learn About Prevention
A useful resource if you are a small business owner interested in offering a workplace wellness program, Healthcare.gov includes information on the preventative steps and measures that individuals can take at any age to stay fit and healthy. It also includes links to Healthfinder.gov which provides personalized prevention information based on your profile.
Gustavo A Viera CPA
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