small business

Small Employers

Through the Healthcare Insurance Exchange, Small Employers See More Choices and Cost Savings

You are generally considered a small employer if you’ve got less than 50 FTEs, with which the law’s impact on your business will likely be minimal. You are not required to offer healthcare coverage to your employees. If you do, you may qualify for the Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit to help you pay for it.

Oregon's healthcare insurance exchange, Cover Oregon, will enable small employers to offer employees more health plan choices with financial assistance to help cover the cost of premiums (for qualifying employers). The exchange will serve employers with fewer than 50 employees in 2014 and beginning in 2016, up to 100 employees.

Small group health insurance is typically offered on a guaranteed-issue basis, meaning that you cannot be denied coverage due to the health status of your employees or their dependents. Health insurance issuers must sell you any small employer health product they sell to other small employers in your state.

Visit Cover Oregon for more information on how to provide health insurance for your employees.


ORLA has partnered with Garth Rouse & Associates to develop frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to small employers and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Before implementing any benefit changes, consult a professional specializing in this field as this law is continuously changing and evolving.

Tax Credits

Eligible employers may qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35% to offset the cost of your insurance. Starting in 2014, the small business tax credit can cover up to 50% of the employer contribution toward premiums.

To qualify, small employers must:
  • Provide health insurance to employees and cover at least 50 percent of the cost of coverage.
  • Employ fewer than 25 full-time workers (employers with fewer than 50 part-time workers may be eligible).
  • Pay average annual wages below $50,000.
Calculate Your Eligibility for a Tax Credit

1. First, determine the total number of your employees:
Full-time equivalent (FTE) employees = full time employees + full time equivalents (divide the total annual hours of part time employees by 2080)

2. Next, calculate your average annual wages of employees:
Average wages = total annual wages paid for all employees divided by total number of FTEs

If your average wages is less than $50,000 and you pay at least half of the insurance premiums for your employees at the single coverage rate, then you may be able to claim the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

For more information on small employer tax credit eligibility, visit

Checklist for Small Businesse to Prepare

  1. Make sure you understand how insurance works. For example, you’ll want to understand the difference between premiums and out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and co-payments. You’ll want to compare these details to help determine which plans are right for you and your employees. Visit Understanding Insurance to learn more about how insurance works.
  2. Learn about different types of health insurance. Through the Exchange, you’ll be able to choose a level of coverage that gives you and your employees the right balance of cost and benefits.
  3. Start thinking about when to begin coverage. You’ll need to choose a month to start coverage. Consider what timing would work best for you and your employees.
  4. Set your budget. Think about how much money you’re able to spend for group coverage. You’ll also need to consider how much your employees can spend for their coverage.
  5. Get organized. You’ll want to have basic information about your business organized and available, like a list of employees you plan to cover and your tax ID number.
  6. Make a list of questions you have before it’s time to choose which health plans you’ll offer. Consider what’s most important for your budget and your employees.
  7. Look for help. If you already use a health insurance agent or broker, they’ll be able to help you figure out your options. Brokers sell many different insurance products and are usually paid by insurance companies. Agents work for just one insurance company.
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