By Seth Goodall
Small Business Administration New England Regional Administrator
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, approximately 60,000 self-employed entrepreneurs in Vermont will have access to better health care choices.
Through Vermont Health Connect, a Health Insurance Marketplace, self-employed entrepreneurs can shop for affordable, high quality health coverage that fits their needs and budget. Vermonters can apply and enroll in a plan from October to March, with coverage beginning as early as Jan. 1 at www.vermonthealthconnect.gov.
Increased access to quality, affordable health care will make it easier for potential entrepreneurs to strike out on their own instead of staying at larger firms simply because of "job lock” or the lack of access to affordable insurance outside of work. In fact, a recent study by the Urban Institute estimated that making health insurance more affordable and ending discrimination against pre-existing conditions, the law will enable an additional 1.5 million Americans to go into business for themselves.
The benefits of a competitive insurance marketplace are already being seen. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finds that in the 48 states, including the District of Columbia, where premiums are available, the average premium for the lowest cost silver plan in the Marketplace is more than 16 percent lower than projected.
Go online to find and compare options. See if you qualify for lower costs, and select coverage that best meets your needs and budget. One application, one time, and you can't be denied coverage or charged more because of a pre-existing condition.
Self-employed individuals may also qualify to get lower costs when they purchase private health coverage through Vermont Health Connect. While completing the application, you will learn if you qualify for these lower costs in the form of a premium tax credit or cost-sharing subsidies. Under the Affordable Care Act, self-employed business owners now have more options than ever to find affordable health coverage, and it’s important to know the facts about the choices available as you start, or continue to operate, your own business.
For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov or www.vermonthealthconnect.gov. The HealthCare.gov website features a live web-chat feature, as well as information on local resources available to help you navigate the marketplaces. People can also call the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hotline for additional assistance at 1-800-318-2596 or 1-855-889-4325.