MONTROSE–As part of her education to become a certified Health Coverage Guide, SBDC Consultant Susan Bony received intensive training on the Federal Affordable Care Act and the Connect for Health Colorado program. The more she learned, however, the more Bony realized that much of the information circulating about the ACA and about Colorado’s insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, has been aimed at individuals and families rather than business owners.

“I could find very little information on the impacts to small business at first,” Bony said, adding that her training has since prepared her to share vital information about health care coverage with small business owners throughout the region.

“It is more important than everyone thinks,” she noted. “The Federal Government has deadlines—small business owners cannot ignore what is going on. They must act by December 15th for health insurance to become active for their employees on January 1st. If you are a business owner who employs between two and 50 full-time employees, you do not have to complete an application. However, it will be a nice benefit to their employees, in most cases will save the employee money, and the employer will get a tax credit.”

On Oct. 1, 2013 the new Federal guidelines took effect, and individuals and small businesses in Colorado were able to sign-up for health care through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace. Health care insurance purchased through the Colorado marketplace by December 15th becomes effective starting Jan. 1, 2014.

The national media frenzy concerning the problems associated with the Affordable Care Act can be misleading to insurance clients in Colorado, Bony said, because the marketplace here is up and running.

“Colorado is one of the states that wanted to control its own health care marketplace,” she said, “and the online system here is working just fine.”

Now, local business owners have a resource tailored specifically to their needs. The Region 10 Small Business Resource Center and the Small Business Development Center at Region 10 are partnering with Connect for Health Colorado to educate small businesses about the new health care marketplace. Certified Health Coverage Guides are available at no charge to meet privately with small business owners regarding the ACA and the Connect for Health Colorado.

Call Region 10 at 970-249-2436 (extension 201) to schedule an appointment with a Certified Health Coverage Guide, and to learn more about what the Federal ACA guidelines mean for your business and your employees. Region 10 is located at 300 N. Cascade in Montrose.