If you are a small business owner or the employee of a small business, you may be interested in what is going on in 2018 with the Small Business Health Options program, otherwise known as SHOP. Created out of President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, the small business program was established as a separate market from the individual plans commonly thought of as Obamacare. It was designed to provide additional options for small business health insurance plans.
What Is The Small Business Health Options Program?
The Small Business Health Options Program established a competitive marketplace that allows business owners to shop for and obtain health coverage for their employees. SHOP was designed to provide employers with considerable leeway in finding the right coverage for their needs, an important factor given the width and breadth of the small business environment.
The marketplace allows business owners to choose a single health insurance plan for employees or opt to let employees choose from a variety of small business health insurance plans. Dental plans are also available through the marketplace, at the discretion of the employer.
With flexibility in mind, employers are free to choose what portion of the health premium, if any, they will pay, and what portion is to be paid by their employees. The employer also has full discretion in electing to cover dependents or not, and in deciding how long new employees will wait to begin coverage.
For employers with less than 25 full-time employees, there is the added benefit of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. Employees of the small business must be making $50,000 or less annually, on average, and the insurance must be a SHOP-certified plan, to qualify for the tax credit.
Where To Find Plans
Small business health insurance plans can be purchased directly through the SHOP marketplace or from a licensed insurance broker. Employers can search SHOP-eligible plans online or work with a qualified insurance broker or agent to discuss available plans.
As a small business owner, once you’ve made your decision about which plan to purchase, you have the option to contact the insurance company directly or to work with your broker to enroll your employees in health coverage. If you find the process confusing, the insurance company or a qualified agent can help sort through any questions you have.
Who Qualifies For SHOP?
To qualify for the Small Business Health Options Program, you must own and operate a business employing anywhere between 1 and 50 full-time employees. Full-time status is granted to any employee working 30 or more hours per week, per month.
There is a separate calculation for part-time employees, where the total hours worked by all part-time employees in a week are divided by 30. This means you are not required to have any full-time employees if you employ enough part-time people to meet this calculation.
Small Business Health Insurance Requirements
As a business owner, the small business health insurance requirements include offering the health insurance to all full-time employees. Coverage for part-time employees is optional and up to you, as the business owner. Additionally, 70% of your eligible employees, meaning they are full-time with no other health insurance, must enroll in the health coverage for your small business to remain eligible.
Small business health insurance requirements also include operating your business office or work sites inside the state where you plan to purchase health insurance.
Find Health Insurance With FirstQuote Health
If you find that sifting through health insurance plans is confusing, then FirstQuote Health can help. FirstQuote Health will link you to helpful information and a network of licensed agents, trained and ready to help you navigate the complex world of health insurance, and find affordable, quality plans that suit the needs of you, your family, and your employees. Compare health insurance plans and quotes in your area by entering your zip code, and get covered as early today.