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I have been unemployed since December 2008, and my husband works for a very small company with 5-6 employees that does not offer healthcare. Will health reform mandate all employers, regardless of size, to provide healthcare?

Health reform does not mandate that small employers offer coverage to their workers. However, it does make it easier for small employers to offer coverage. Health reform provides employers with up to 25 workers with tax credits to make coverage more affordable—increasing the likelihood that they will offer coverage. Starting this year, small employers can get tax credits for up to 35 percent of their share of the premiums for their workers’ health coverage. In 2014, they will be eligible for credits of up to 50 percent of the premiums they pay.

In addition, starting in 2014, small employers will have a new marketplace (also referred to as an “exchange”) in which they can shop for coverage for their workers. In the new health insurance exchanges, insurers will provide small employers with clear, comparable information on the costs and benefits of different health plans, which will help small employers find quality coverage that meets their workers’ needs.

If your husband’s employer decides not to offer coverage to his/her workers, you and your family will still be able to get coverage starting in 2014 through the new health insurance exchange. Moreover, many low- and middle-income workers will get significant help affording coverage through a new tax credit subsidy.

Claire McAndrew is a Health Policy Analyst at Families USA, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization striving to achieve quality, affordable health coverage for all Americans. For more information, visit www.

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