While there has been a lot of hand wringing over how the new Affordable Care Act will hurt small businesses, the majority won't be affected. In fact, only about 10,000 to 15,000 out of almost 6 million U.S. businesses will be forced to start offering health insurance to employees.
Data from the U.S. Small Business Administrationshows that the vast majority of the more than 5.7 million businesses in the United States have fewer than 50 employees, and thus aren't required under the new Obamacare mandates to offer health insurance to their employees.
While small businesses have the option to provide health insurance, the new law only requires businesses with more than 50 employees to offer insurance. That mandate starts in 2015. Those that choose not to provide insurance will face a possible Employer Shared Responsibility fine.
"Businesses with fewer than 50 full-time or equivalent employees are not subject to these rules — that's 96 percent of all businesses," Kathleen Sheehy, deputy press secretary for the U.S. Small Business Administration, told BusinessNewsDaily. "Additionally, of the remaining 4 percent of firms that do have 50 or more full-time or equivalent workers, the vast majority already offer sufficient coverage to their employees, and will not be affected."
Specifically, research from the National Conference of State Legislatures, found that 94 percent of employers with 50 to 199 employees already offer health insurance to their workers, with 98 percent of those with more than 200 employees doing the same.
Starting this week, small businesseswith fewer than 50 employees can start shopping for insurance in the new Small Business Health Options Program Marketplace. The marketplace is designed to simplify the insurance-buying process and give small business owners a bit more purchasing power. Whether it that plays out that way is a matter of much debate.