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How will the Affordable Care Act impact small businesses?

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) – The United States Congress continues its game of political brinkmanship over a potential government shutdown and the Affordable Care Act is a chief component of the debate.

Regardless of what happens with Congress, online health insurance exchanges are set to launch Tuesday, and you will be able to sign up for various coverage plans.

When the Affordable Care Act was passed three years ago, some small business owners were initially confused about whether they would be required to provide insurance to their employees. With online marketplaces set to open, some business owners say the confusion continues.

“You talk to insurance agents, you talk to a lot of people, and everybody doesn’t know what’s going on,” said Mary Mollen, who owns The Toy Center on Patterson Avenue.

Mollen’s business is small; she only has one full-time employee, which means she is not required to provide health insurance.  Under the Affordable Care Act, only companies that employ more than 50 people must offer insurance either through their existing plan or the online marketplace.

Regardless of size, all businesses are required to inform their employees about the online exchanges and the coverage options they offer.

Mollen said even though her business is not affected, she is closely following what happens with the Affordable Care Act.

“I will keep following it to some extent because you never know what’s going to come down the road,” Mollen said.

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