Skip to content
Subscriber Only

What Small Businesses Need to Do for Obamacare Before Oct. 1

Sara Getahun pours soy wax into Indian containers at Himalayan Handmade Candles in Decatur, Georgia on Aug. 13
Sara Getahun pours soy wax into Indian containers at Himalayan Handmade Candles in Decatur, Georgia on Aug. 13Photograph by Erik s. Lesser/EPA via Corbis

The health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act will open on Oct. 1. Most small employers—those with 50 or fewer full-time employees—are not required to offer health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Even businesses with more than 50 full-time employees have gotten a one-year reprieve from penalties if they don’t offer insurance. But all companies, regardless of size, are required to notify their employees about the Obamacare marketplaces.

The state and federal insurance exchanges are websites on which individuals and small businesses can shop for health plans. Though the deadline is less than a month away, many small businesses don’t know they have to notify employees, says Keith McMurdy, a benefits partner in the law firm of Fox Rothschild in New York. He has spoken to dozens of small business groups around the country in the past year and says most small business owners are unaware of the requirement or are under the misconception that it doesn’t apply to them because they’re too small to be governed by the health-care reform law’s mandate. McMurdy says it’s not clear how the requirement will be enforced, but penalties for businesses that don’t comply could reach $100 per worker per day.