Affordable Health Insurance for Rhode Island Small Businesses and Workers

United States Department of Health and Human Services & United States Small Business Administration

U.S. Health and Human Services Regional Director Christie L. Hager & U.S. Small Business Administration Acting

SBA New England Regional Administrator Jeanne A. Hulit

Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. And, in an economy where small businesses create two-thirds of jobs, owners and employees deserve a health insurance market with fairer prices, better choices, and greater certainty. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that market is on its way.

Beginning in 2014, Rhode Island small business owners will have access to a new Health Insurance Marketplace called the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange —which opens for enrollment on October 1st—that will allow them to make side-by-side comparisons to find a plan that fits their budget and that’s right for their businesses and employees. Each Marketplace will operate a Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, focused just on small businesses.

And while many small business owners have questions about the employer responsibility provision, it is important to note that businesses with fewer than 50 employees – that’s 96% of small businesses – are not required to purchase insurance.  Of the remaining 4% of small businesses with more than 50 employees, most already provide insurance.  So the number of businesses that will have to begin offering employee health insurance or pay a penalty is very small.

Small businesses are also seeing savings thanks to new tax credits available to help them cover their employees. Many small businesses with 25 or fewer employees have already received a tax credit of up to 35% of their health insurance costs. And beginning in 2014, this tax credit will go up to 50%.  According to an IRS 2009 report, in Rhode Island alone, there may be over 18,100 small businesses that are eligible for tax credits.

No business owner wants to drop coverage for their employees.  For many, their employees are like a family.  For others, offering health insurance is critical to attracting the kind of workers they need to succeed.  Thankfully, starting in January, 2014, employers will have many more options.  To learn more about the health insurance marketplace, please visit: or

Christie L. Hager                                                  Jeanne A. Hulit
Regional Director                                                 Regional Administrator
US Dept. of Health and Human Services       U.S. Small Business Administration

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