Health Care

Website is good first stop for insurance changes

Major changes loom in the health insurance market in 2014 when provisions of the Affordable Care Act begin to kick in.

Those with health insurance through their work won’t have to make choices, but individuals with personal health insurance and small businesses will need to make decisions once open enrollment begins Oct. 1. Now is the time to start getting prepared.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services is trying to make it easy – or as easy as a major new government program can be. The agency’s new website guides individuals and small businesses to questions and answers that fit their circumstances.

It’s too early for calculating the exact dollars and cents, or sense, of various insurance options because the details of state and (in South Carolina’s case) federal exchanges haven’t been locked down. Still, it’s worth your time to click through your options on the website.

For instance, an employer with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent workers doesn’t have to offer them health insurance. But if the employer wants to help those employees with health insurance, the website provides information on the tax benefits available through the Small Business Health Options Program. Again, exact financial details aren’t available yet.

Individuals also can determine their potential responsibilities, based on their current job and health insurance status. In October, they’ll be able to take the next step and begin signing up for insurance exchanges.

Joey Holleman