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Healthcare Basics for Employers with Fewer Than 25 Employees


Health care in the workplace continues to be an important issue for small businesses. Taking this into consideration, the Small Business Administration outlines the provisions that may impact employers with less than 25 employees to help navigate the changes in healthcare.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

The Small Business Tax Credit helps small businesses get affordable coverage for their employees especially for those businesses with low to moderate income workers.  As of 2014, this credit is available to qualified small businesses that purchase coverage through the SHOP Marketplace and may be worth up to 50% of the employer’s premium costs (35% for tax-exempt employers). The Tax Estimator Tool from helps you determine if you are eligible.

Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)

If you are looking to provide coverage for your employees, you can do so through the Small Business Health Options Program. The SHOP is open to employers with up to 50 FTE employees and allows them to obtain a better choice of health plans. Moreover, if you meet the eligibility requirement and offer your employees coverage through the SHOP, you may qualify for the Small Business Tax Credit worth up to 50%.  To find out if you meet the size requirements for SHOP, use the SHOP FTE Calculator .

Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBCs) Disclosure Rules

The Summary of Benefits and Coverage form explains what the plan covers and the costs. Employers are required to provide this to employees to help them better understand and evaluate the options available.

Flexible Spending Account Contributions

For a plan beginning on or after January 2013, the maximum amount an employee can contribute to health care flexible spending arrangements for any year is capped at $2,500. It is important to note that the limit only applies to elective employee contributions and does not extend to employer contributions.

Additional Medicare Withholding on Wages

Effective January 1, 2013, ACA increased the employee portion of the Medicare Part A Hospital Insurance (HI) withholdings by .9% (from 1.45% to 2.35%) on employees with incomes of over $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married joint filers.  It is the responsibility of employers to withhold this additional tax, which applies only to wages in excess of these thresholds. The employer portion of the tax remains unchanged at 1.45%.

New Medicare Assessment on Net Investment Income

A 3.8% tax will be assessed on net investment income including taxable capital gains, dividends, interest, rents, and royalties for taxpayers with Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) over $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married joint filers.

Workplace Wellness Programs

To encourage employers in promoting wellness in the workplace, the Affordable Care Act creates new incentives. Wellness programs require individuals to meet a specific health objective to reap rewards. For more information visit

How to Reward Productive Employees


Are you keeping your workforce happy and productive? There are many ways to compensate employees for doing a great job without breaking the bank or giving a “best employee” plaque. Showing appreciation every day is more meaningful than elaborate rewards. Here are five simple but effective ways to reward productive employees:

Praise them in public. Praise your most productive employees individually or as a team and let them know how you appreciate their efforts in achieving company objectives. They will be motivated to work harder because they are being recognized for their hard work.

Send a handwritten note. Write a personal note to employees thanking them for all the work they’ve done. Genuine appreciation can go a long way.

Opportunities for input. As an employer you have to come up with ideas to keep your company moving forward. You’ll be surprised that some of the best advice can come from your staff. Encouraging them to provide feedback will make them feel that their expertise and opinion matter to you.

Flexible hours. It’s as simple as giving them time for family or personal issues. As long as the employee is deserving and unlikely to abuse the privilege, this can pave the way to building a trusting relationship.

Reward efforts. Sometimes even the best ideas don’t work. But you want employees to continue producing them. Make it a goal to reward your productive employees with constructive criticism.

Choosing a Health Plan for Your Business


Getting affordable coverage usually starts with selecting one insurance company that you trust. As you review all the options available to you, here are some things you should know:

All plans in the SHOP Marketplace carry the same set of essential health benefits.

Doctor visits, hospitalization, pregnancy, and prescriptions are just some of the core set of benefits that all plans in SHOP offer. Other plans may have vision, dental, and medical management programs for employees with special needs. Your employees can compare plans and obtain the best coverage.


Health plans are organized by metal tiers.

The health plans are put into 4 categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. They cover about sixty percent to ninety percent of the total costs of care, and the employee pays about ten to forty percent depending on the plan you choose. This affects how much your employees pay for premiums, deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket costs.

If you prefer to offer one health plan, you’ll choose the plan category and carrier. For those who like to offer their employees a choice of plans, they can select one plan category and the employees are free to choose a plan from any insurance company. Take note that the categories don’t reflect the quality or amount of care the plans provide.

You are in control over your spending.

You can decide upfront how much you can afford to contribute towards your employees’ premiums. You may also offer and contribute to dependent coverage.

If you are considering the option to offer your employees a choice of plans, you may contribute a fixed percentage of any individual plan premium within a health plan category for each employee and dependent. Another option you have is contributing a fixed percentage of a specific reference plan premium amount that you choose.

You may qualify for tax credits.

You may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit worth up to 50% of your premium costs if you get coverage through SHOP.

You can enroll in SHOP coverage any time of the year.

If you have fifty or fewer employees, you can use the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace to offer them coverage. You may be eligible for the tax credit that began in 2010. See the plans, compare prices, and use the FTE Calculator at

You don’t need to navigate the health care system alone. We’re here to help you get affordable coverage for your business. Whether it's your first time shopping for health insurance or have been purchasing your own in the past, we can assist you in finding an insurance solution that’s right for you.

IRS Raises 2016 Health Savings Account Limits

A health savings account is a popular type of medical reimbursement plan that combines the benefits of both a traditional and Roth 401(k) owned by employees for medical expenses. An employer typically offers an HSA-qualified high-deductible health plan and an HSA.

Recently, the IRS raised the maximum allowable contribution to a health savings account by $100 in 2016 for family coverage. The contribution that can be made next year to an HSA with a high-deductible plan will be $6,750 ($6,650 in 2015) for employees with family coverage. The maximum contribution for those having single coverage remains unchanged at $3,350.

Last year, the maximum HSA contribution for individuals increased by $50. The limits are updated every year to reflect cost-of-living adjustments.

For calendar year 2016, the out-of-pocket maximums are set to $6,550 for self-only coverage (up $100 from 2015) while the family coverage reaches $13,100 (up $200 from 2015).


If you use HSA funds to pay for nonqualified medical expenses, the tax penalty is 20 percent. The 2016 HSA guidelines were released by the IRS in Revenue Procedure 2015-30 and take effect in January.

Prioritizing Health for Business Success

Recent studies have shown that even incorporating moderate physical activity, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep can help you reap the rewards of healthier weight, better immunity, sharper mind, and reduced risk of illness. These health benefits add up to business success.

Moderate exercise provides perks for the brain and helps boost immunity, making you better equipped to fight infection and certain diseases. The result? Lower absenteeism and better productivity at work.

Similarly, diet and nutrition are crucial to employee performance. Research led by the UN International Labor Office reveals that inadequate nutrition has a negative impact on worker productivity, physical work performance and capacity. Those with poor nutrition had increased sickness and risk for accidents as well as low morale. Obese workers were more likely to miss work too, compared with normal weight individuals.

Sleep is another important, yet often overlooked component of health and fitness. Sleep deprivation leaves you feeling tired during the day compromising your focus, learning, memory, problem solving, and mood.

Emphasizing healthier habits is essential to employee productivity. By educating your workforce on proper nutrition, physical activity, and the importance of adequate sleep you can decrease the likelihood of spending on health care and sick days. Remember, employees who eat, exercise, and sleep well have better mental acuity, focus, performance, and drive, increasing efficiency on the job.

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