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15% of New Yorkers have no health insurance. That’s approximately one out of every seven people, including men, women and children. Everyone needs health care. Paying out of pocket for the costs of treating a single severe illness or injury can take its toll on a family.

Additionally, health insurance has been almost impossible to obtain for people who have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, or asthma. People who don’t have insurance but do need health care are often forced to rely on expensive emergency room services, creating huge bills they simply cannot pay. This raises the costs for everyone else. For this reason, the Affordable Care Act – sometimes referred to as Obamacare – was created.

What Does The Affordable Care Act Mean For Westchester County Small Business?

There are two provisions of the Affordable Care Act that can impact Westchester County Small Businesses. The first is the Individual Mandate – that portion of the law that states everyone must have health insurance by March 31, 2014 or be subject to a fine. If you operate your business as a sole proprietor, you are subject to the Individual Mandate.

There is an Employer Mandate that requires business owners who employ 50 full time employees (or the equivalent of 50 full time employees) to provide affordable health insurance coverage that meets certain minimum standards. Affordable is defined as not costing more than 9.5% of an employee’s income. Penalties for failing to provide appropriate coverage can be quite stiff.

What Are My Responsibilities as a Westchester Small Business Owner Under the Affordable Care Act?

Given the complexity of the law, as a small business owner, it can be difficult to determine what you’re obligated to do, what your options for securing health insurance for your employees are, and whether or not a coverage plan you’re considering meets the government standards.

Affordable Care Act Impact on Westchester Small Business is Complex, But Help Is Available