The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes key provisions that will give America’s small business owners new options for providing quality, affordable health coverage to your employees if you so choose. Under ACA Small Businesses may also qualify for small business health care tax credits for offering health insurance to their employees. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is a separate Marketplace where beginning in 2014, small businesses and their employees will be able to buy affordable coverage that:

  • Provides small businesses access to the same affordable health plans only previously available to large firms. By establishing state-based SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) Marketplaces, where small businesses and their employees will be able to buy affordable coverage.  Small business owners and workers will be able to pool their buying power and do one-stop comparison shopping for affordable plans.
  • Provides small businesses access to quality health plans. Plans in the SHOP Marketplaces will have a guaranteed set of minimum benefits – to eliminate fine print surprises and gaps in coverage that often face those who don’t have the purchasing power of a large group.
  • Ensures key Patients’ Rights, which are particularly important for small businesses that have often only been able to get health plans with large gaps in coverage.  Like baning insurance companies from placing lifetime limits on coverage, placing restrictive annual limits on coverage, and denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
  • Provides tax credits for small businesses to help them offer employee health insurance coverage – if they choose to do so.  The tax credits cover up to 35% of the cost of the coverage, for businesses with up to 25 employees.  Beginning in 2014, these tax credits will start covering up to 50% of the cost of the coverage.  In 2011, 360,000 small employers used the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to help them afford health insurance for 2 million workers.          


Check out this video about the SHOP Marketplace for small businesses:

Below you will find useful information about the SHOP Marketplace and how to prepare for open enrollment:

Enrollment in the Marketplace begins on October 1, 2013 for health coverage starting on January 1, 2014.

How can I prepare for the SHOP Marketplace?

If you own a small business, you can prepare to use SHOP now. Below is a helpful checklist to help small business oweners for open enrolled starting October 1, 2013.

For more information on the SHOP Marketplace:

Will I qualify for small business health care tax credits?

You may qualify for employer health care tax credits:

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