Health Insurance Exchange Service options for small businesses in WA. /ID

CLARKSTON, WA - Starting October first, Americans have to start looking at health insurance coverage options.

KLEW News learns more about how that's affecting local businesses and their employees.

In just a week, healthcare benefit options open up across the country. To stay compliant with the Affordable Care Act every American is required to have health insurance by next January. But for small business owner Dr. Dave Rustabakke, the switch to universal health care isn't particularly convenient for his business.

"It's very frustrating," said Rustabakke. "It's not only healthcare but many aspects of our business are being more and more regulated."

Patrick Connor is the Washington State Director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. He's been fielding questions from business owners around the state as the October first deadline approaches.

"Small employers are supposed to give their employees a notice before October first, that let's them know what their options are," said Connor.

Connor said the notice should explain any changes to current insurance plans for their employees. If the small businesses don't offer insurance, they should let their employees know where to search out options to get insured.

"At this point, small businesses, those with 50 employees or fewer are not required to offer health insurance to their workers," said Connor. "So there is no penalty if they are unable to afford to do so."

Dr. Rustabakke employs about ten employees at his veterinary clinic in Clarkston. Because of that, he's not required to cover his employee's benefits.

"We're small enough where I think we're under the threshold where it's going to make a substantial impact on us personally," said Rustabakke.

But the costs from vendors that supply the vet clinic are going up and affecting his costs.

"Generally large businesses will be affected and of course they're going to pass their costs on," said Rustabakke.

By January first, if you're not insured no matter where you are in the country, you'll receive a fine from the government.

for more information on the Washington and Idaho Health Insurance Exchange, head over to our KLEW News Facebook page.