To help small businesses provide health insurance to their employees, the Affordable Care Act created Small Business Health Options Programs, or SHOPs. Starting in 2014, SHOPs will be available to eligible businesses with up to 100 employees—although states can limit participation to businesses with up to 50 employees until 2016.

Once up and running, it is anticipated that SHOPs will help small businesses by:

  • Simplifying Choices. SHOP plans will provide essential health benefits like those covered by a typical employer health plan. These plans will be placed in four “tiers” depending on the coverage provided. SHOPs will provide side-by-side comparisons of available plans, with information about benefits, premiums, and quality. SHOPs will also enroll employees and consolidate billing.
  • Expanding Options. SHOPs will allow eligible employers to offer a variety of Qualified Health Plans from several insurers. These employees will then be able to choose a plan that best fits their needs and budget.
  • Preserving Control. Small businesses will be able to decide whether and when to participate in SHOPs, to choose their own level of employee contribution and to make a single monthly payment to the SHOPs rather than to multiple plans.
  • Lowering Costs. SHOPs will be designed to save money by spreading insurers’ administrative costs across more businesses. Additionally, small businesses using SHOPs may be eligible for tax credits.

Since SHOPs will be a part of the Affordable Insurance Exchanges, states have flexibility in determining how they will be structured. Until decisions are made and Exchanges are implemented, we will not know if these SHOPs will accomplish everything they are designed to do.

At Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk, we are committed to guiding you through what is sure to be a bumpy ride. Check back with us periodically for future informational updates. If you have specific questions about the Act or if you are ready to take action and would like to see how Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk can help, contact us.