Business owner: ACA offered another option


Name: Pinetree Retirement Planning

Years in business: 14

Location: Auburn

Insurance in 2014: Private pay (owners), ACA marketplace (employees)

Pinetree Retirement Planning is all about helping people navigate the maze of insurance. Life insurance. Long term care insurance. Medicare. 

So the irony wasn’t lost on co-owner Melinda Small when she and her husband couldn’t afford to offer health insurance to their own workers.  

“One of the challenges of doing it in the past is it was a moving (insurance) market. You might be able to afford it one year, the year that you wanted to launch it. But the next year your premiums could go up substantially and then you’re, as a company, going ‘How are we going to budget for this?'” Small said.

“You were better off giving (employees) the extra income and letting them choose what they wanted to do with it. But even then they were saying, ‘Even if I put it toward it, I can’t afford insurance.'”

For years Small and her husband bought their own health insurance and tried to give their two employees a big enough boost in pay to help with theirs. It didn’t help much. 

“Individuals had to kind of figure things out for themselves,” she said.

When the ACA marketplace started this past year, Small saw a new option. Because her company wasn’t offering affordable insurance to employees, why not encourage the employees to get it from the marketplace and, potentially, qualify for a federal subsidy to help pay for it?

It made employees happy. It made Small happy.

“Being an insurance company, we’re pretty passionate about insurance. You want everybody to be insured,” she said.

They plan to keep encouraging workers to use the marketplace this year. 

Small and her husband didn’t qualify for a subsidy themselves, but they found lower insurance rates when they looked. They’re paying about $400 a month less than they were.

ACA 201 Online: A one-year checkup on how the ACA is doing in Maine and a subsidy calculator can be found at

Profiles of Mainers who bought health insurance through the ACA marketplace:

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Affordable Care Act 101: We break down the ACA, what it does and what it requires you to do.