by the Colorado Division of Insurance
While consumers buying individual health insurance plans for themselves and their families had to pay attention to the open enrollment deadline this past spring, small businesses buying insurance for their employees are not limited to that deadline. Small businesses are eligible to purchase health insurance year-round.
Small businesses are a big part of Colorado’s economy, representing almost 98 percent of employers in the state and employing more than 950,000 Coloradans, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Most employers agree that keeping their employees healthy is a top priority, and offering health benefits can attract the best employees. Yet, small business owners may feel overwhelmed when purchasing health coverage. The Division of Insurance (DOI) wants to share some tips for small businesses to consider when shopping for health insurance.
1. Understand the factors that can affect the cost of your small group premiums – such as the size and location of your company and the ages of your employees. Choices about the plan – such as the use of deductibles versus co-payments or the option of having both in-network and out-of-network provider choices – will also impact the premiums. However, it is important to know that your company cannot be turned down or charged higher rates for coverage due to the health status of your employees.
2. Before buying insurance, survey your employees to find out what kind of coverage is important to them. You won’t be able to offer everything to everyone, but the results of such a survey can help guide your choices.
3. Small businesses can sign up for health insurance at Connect for Health Colorado, or through a licensed agent or broker. For a list of agents working with Connect for Health Colorado, visit its online Agent/Broker Directory at www.connectforhealthco.com. Because all insurance agents must be licensed by DOI, you can also verify those licenses at the DOI website at www.dora.colorado.gov/doi.
4. Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with 50 employees or fewer are not required to provide health coverage for their employees. However, if your business has fewer than 25 employees, and decides to purchase health coverage, it may be eligible for a tax credit for up to 50 percent of the premiums paid.
5. Although small businesses are eligible to purchase health insurance anytime throughout the year, once a plan is purchased, it is usually set for 12 months. The business’ employees will use an open enrollment period tied to the effective date agreed to by the small employer and your health insurance carrier.
If you have questions about what to look for in a plan or questions about your health insurance rights and responsibilities as a small business, the Division of Insurance can help. Visit us at www.dora.colorado.gov/healthinsurance or call us at 303-894-7490 or 1-800-930-3745 outside of the Denver metro area.