The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) opened the floodgate for millions of Americans to access inexpensive healthcare — many for the first time.
The White House pulled out all the stops to get Millennials on board with the ACA. President Obama’s appearance on the Internet comedy series, ‘Between Two Ferns’ with Zach Galifianakis, spoke to young adults in an informative and appealing way, while online campaigns like the #GetCovered PSAs, the #YourMomCares videos, and the March Madness GIF contest used viral marketing tactics to drive home key points of the program.
Unfortunately, it seems that a large majority of Millennials didn’t get the memo.
A study by eHealthInsurance reports that only 17 percent of 18- to 36-year-olds consider themselves informed about the ACA, indicating that most don’t realize how these new laws work in their favor. Others are resistant to acquire healthcare insurance because they don’t see the value in it. Commonly referred to as the “young invincibles,” these young people are the most likely to be uninsured. Most either haven’t dealt with a major health issue or don’t consider the coverage to be worth the cost.
Young entrepreneurs and startup leaders have specifically been targeted with the #GeeksGetCovered campaign because they are poised to benefit greatly from the ACA. Unfortunately, so few young entrepreneurs understand how the program will benefit them. Here’s a practical look at how the ACA will benefit you and your company:
Affordable healthcare levels the playing field.
While newer or smaller businesses previously struggled to compete with the lucrative benefit packages offered by large corporations, the ease of enrollment and affordability of the ACA make it possible for startups to offer their employees comprehensive health insurance.
Benefits help attract talent.
It goes without saying that most professionals aren’t eager to leave behind generous benefits to join a risky new operation with no insurance, but startups now have the chance to offer experienced personnel enticing health incentives. With improved benefit packages, startups now have the opportunity to attract more top talent. This is going to dismantle the “job lock” that previously may have prevented talented employees from leaving larger corporations in favor of startups.
It’s easier for entrepreneurs to acquire personal coverage.
Entrepreneurs now have the ability to sign up for individual health insurance plans, regardless of their previous health history. Many will receive monthly tax credits based on income to help offset costs, and young adults can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26, which can help ease the financial burdens associated with starting a business.
Health coverage shows employees you’re invested in their well-being.
Some entrepreneurs argue that it’s more affordable to pay the noncompliance penalty than provide insurance for the entire company, but simply paying the fine can damage employee satisfaction. Investing in employees’ health not only shows that you care, but it’s also a great way to invest in the future of your company.
Don’t Go Cheap and Forgo Insurance
Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t need insurance. From car accidents to chronic illnesses to maternity care, young invincibles are not immune to health woes, and going without health insurance can lead to crushing debt.
It’s common for young entrepreneurs to assume that they can’t afford health insurance, but it might be more affordable than you think. The government estimates that about 50 percent of young Americans will pay a monthly premium of less than $50.
You can also see if you’re eligible for a tax subsidy. Families USA estimates that about 9.3 million people between the ages of 18 and 34 will qualify for a tax subsidy, and many other young entrepreneurs may qualify for Medicaid.
Open enrollment on the federal exchange is closed until November, and the employer mandate has been delayed. That doesn’t mean entrepreneurs are off the hook, though. Use this time to work out a strategy for your startup — whether you opt for a group plan or individual plans with defined contributions. Familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of workplace health insurance so you can at least consider offering insurance as your company grows.
Young entrepreneurs need to understand what the ACA means for their personal and professional lives. Not only will affordable health coverage be positive for them, but it will also strengthen their businesses. If more entrepreneurs understood their options and what a huge draw health coverage is for current and potential employees, they’d see it’s an investment they can’t afford not to make.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Veer Gidwaney is the CEO and co-founder of Maxwell Health. Maxwell Health provides a SaaS platform through health insurance brokers that drastically reduces the headaches associated with employee benefit systems. Tech Cocktail recently named Maxwell Health the “Hottest Startup in the Nation” in 2013. Connect with @maxwellhealth on Twitter.
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