Sunday, December 10, 2017

Confusion Still Surrounds Small Business Health Insurance Costs

As small business owners including modular home builders learn what their 2018 health insurance costs will be, some are considering providing different types of coverage for their employees.

Companies are receiving notices of premium and coverage changes for 2018. The changes vary, depending on factors including the state where a company is located, how many employees it has and how comprehensive its insurance is. But many owners are seeing rate increases of double-digit percentages, finding dramatically reduced coverage, or both. Health insurance consultants expect more owners to rethink their strategies beyond 2018 and choose alternatives like paying for claims themselves or adding health services that can lower costs.

Under the Affordable Care Act, companies with fewer than 50 employees aren’t required to offer insurance, but many do because they feel it’s right or because it helps them compete for and retain top workers. Fifty percent of companies with three to 49 workers have offered health benefits this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care trends. That compares with 53 percent of all employers, and is little changed from the previous three years.

Republicans, as part of the tax overhaul legislation are considering repealing the individual mandate, which requires most people to buy health insurance or pay a fine. All the uncertainty makes decisions about health insurance for next year even more complicated.

If the mandate stays in place, a single person like you would have to pay a penalty of $695 a year or up to 2.5 percent of your income (but no more than the total annual premiums you'd pay on a Bronze plan), whichever is higher.

When you rarely go to the doctor, going without pricey health insurance is pretty enticing. Premiums alone will cost you more than $6,000 a year for something you're not using much. So, the penalty may seem like a small price to pay.

But keep in mind that if you go without health insurance, you could rack up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills if you have a major health issue.

If you have insurance that meets the standards for coverage set by the Affordable Care Act, the total amount of money you are required to pay for in-network care in a single year is capped at $7,350 as a single individual. That doesn't include the premiums that you pay.

But if you don’t have health insurance, there is no limit on your out-of-pocket costs for your medical care.

Before you decide to go without insurance, check out these options for ways to make health insurance more affordable for you.

Most modular home builders have a lot less than 50 employees which might help the builder avoid having to up home prices in 2018. However, almost every modular home factory falls under the ACA mandates and with rising health insurance costs in 2018, the cost of modular homes will probably see an increase unrelated to material costs.

Word to the wise: If you haven’t begun to shop for health insurance for 2018, Run, don’t walk to your health insurance agent and learn where you and your employees stand.

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