Posts Tagged ‘small business


Health Insurance Tax Credit for Small Business

Small Business Owners may be able to claim a new credit on their 2010 tax returns if they pay employee insurance premiums in 2010.

The credit, available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is intended to:

1.   Give small employers a tax break if they pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees on the group health plan.

2.   Encourage small employers to offer health insurance for the first time or maintain the coverage they currently have.

Who is eligible?

Employers with fewer than 25 full-time employees for the tax year and less than $50,000 in average annual wages per full-time employee, may be eligible for the tax credit if the employer pays at least 50 percent of the premium cost of health insurance coverage. Additional requirements and rules apply. Refer to the IRS website for more information. The IRS has also issued a “Three Simple Steps” guide to assist employers in determining their eligibility.

How much is the credit?

To achieve the maximum credit of 35 percent of employer-paid premiums paid in 2010 through 2013, an employer must have 10 or fewer full-time employees with an average annual full-time-equivalent wage of $25,000 or less. Those employers who employ between 11 and 25 full-time employees and/or with average wages in excess of $25,000 but less than $50,000 may still qualify for a lesser credit. Different credit amounts apply to tax-exempt small businesses.

How will the credit change in 2014?

Beginning in 2014, the tax credit increases to a maximum of 50 percent and is available for the two-consecutive-taxable year period beginning with the first taxable year in which the employer offers a qualified health plan to its employees through an exchange.

How are business owners (and their family members) who are employees counted?

Business owners and their family members are not counted when determining the number of full-time employees, the amount of average annual wages or premiums paid with respect to the credit. See the IRS website for further information including a description of a “business owner” and “family member.”

How does this affect payment of health insurance premiums?

It doesn’t. The credit is claimed on the employer’s tax return. The employer must pay the premiums during the year and claim the credit on his/her annual income tax return.


Small Business owners pay too much for health insurance

There’s a huge misconception out there that if you own a business, you get a better deal on health insurance.  The fact is, many “group” health insurance plans come with higher price tags than individual health policies.

For the small business owner with 5-7 employees or less, offering to reimburse employees for their individual health insurance policies through an HRA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement) can prove a significant cost savings to the business, while giving more freedom of health insurance plan choice to their employees.

In addition, the employees ‘own’ their individual plans, which means there’s no need for COBRA coverage if they leave their current employer.  Since businesses smaller than 20 employees do not offer COBRA coverage anyway, individual plans become even more attractive.

The biggest advantage of individual health plans over small group plans is price.  Individual health plans typically offer lower premiums than similar group plans.   The reason is risk.  Individual health insurance in Washington State requires a health risk questionnaire be completed as part of the application process.  The purpose of the health questionnaire is to ‘weed out’ the higher risk applicants with significant health risks.

Most people pass the questionnaire with ease.  When they do, they fall into the same group as everyone else who also passed the same questionnaire, which represents a lower ‘risk’ to the insurance company, thus lowering rates.  (Those who do not pass the health questionnaire are provided the opportunity to sign up on the Washington State Health Insurance Pool, a high-risk pool with significantly higher premiums)  If a business has an employee who does not pass the health questionnaire, then it can still prove less expensive to cover the high risk pool premium for that individual employee versus paying higher group rates for all employees.

Group plans in Washington do not have a health questionnaire, so the insurance company has no way of ‘weeding out’ the unhealthy employees.  The rates have a ‘built in’ risk factor, whether warranted or not, because the insurer has no way of  separating the high risk groups from the low risk.  Groups of 2-50 employees are ‘community rated’ meaning they are in the same risk pool whether their employees have low utilization or high.   Therefore, the small business with healthy employees ends up paying a higher rate because of other businesses who may have employees with expensive high risk chronic health problems.

Offering individual health plans to employees comes with more advantages than just lower price.   They also come with less administration.   Unlike ‘group” plans, there are no ‘renewals’ each year to go through, no minimum participation requirements imposed by insurance carriers, and no minimum employer contribution requirements, either.   Employers still have the ability to define eligibility, probation periods, and can design their health benefit package with more options and flexibility.

The Washington Health Insurance Agency has been providing creative solutions like this to small business owners for years.  Give us a call at 360-464-1622 to find out if you’re paying too much for your health insurance coverage or fill out our business quote form for a free cost comparison at

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