What small businesses need to know about the Affordable Care Act

It's a life saver to more than 85 percent of the people in the U.S. and by the end of this year, the Affordable Care Act plans to increase the number of people with health insurance to almost 100 percent.

It's all part of the upcoming Marketplace, an online site that can help individuals and a number of businesses across the country. Anyone can begin their insurance policy search on Oct. 1, 2013.

Click here to read more about the Marketplace and here to learn if you're eligible for coverage.

While many uninsured residents see this new health care plan as a plus, some business owners view this as a burden and aren't too sure what this means for their company.

Concerns among small business owners

"It's going to be costly for businesses. There's no way that it can't be," John Bogue said.

Bogue's the owner of the Mark Twain Dinette in Hannibal. He experienced the costs associated with a company health insurance policy. About ten years ago, he voluntarily provided a group insurance option for staff at an affordable rate.

"Within two years, the rate had more than tripled and was such a drain on the profitability of the restaurant that we weren't able to continue and had to stop," Bogue said.

In recent years, similar experiences among small businesses have led to a growth of misinformation with the Affordable Care Act. For instance, small business owners thought they would be required to provide coverage, but in fact, big businesses will have to pay up.

What this really means for my company

"If you have less than 50 employees you do not have to offer health insurance. You can, there's some incentives to get you to, but if you decide I can't handle this, it's too much of an administrative burden, there's no penalty if you say, I'm not going to offer health insurance at this time," Ryan Barker, the vice president of Health Policy at the Missouri Dept. of Health said.

The story changes for companies that employ more than 50 full-time jobs. Those employers must provide insurance policies for employees or otherwise get penalized.

What if I don't provide my staff with insurance?

"That penalty has been delayed a year to give those larger employers a chance to figure out all these new rules, to get comfortable, figure out what they're going to do as an individual business and move forward starting in 2015," Barker said.

Business owners like Bogue feel the pressure of insurance costs will cause some businesses to take a step back and cut staff so they're no longer included in the mandate.

"As you know, the insurance hasn't gone down in the last 10 or 15 years," Bogue said.

He sees the costs only going up from here.

For more information on small business incentives, tax credits and how you can choose the plan that best fits you, log onto and for Missouri residents, Also, be sure to watch Healthcare Marketplace Now on KHQA Thursday at 5 p.m.