The small business health options or the SHOP Marketplace as it is commonly known is a program established by the Affordable Care Act. The program is designed to make it possible for small employers to offer group health insurance to all employees. The marketplace in most states is open to employers with 50 or fewer employees. In some states like New York, Washington, and Colorado the shop exchange also offers coverage to businesses with up to 100 employees. Through the SHOP marketplace businesses with less than 25 full-time employees with wages below $50,000 can get tax credits of up to 50% of employees’ premiums. These credits will, in turn, help employers pay their employees’ insurance premiums on the SHOP marketplace. The marketplace is also the only platform where individuals can apply for premium healthcare tax credits.
Group health insurance is basically a health policy taken by an employer and is offered to employees and eligible employees dependents. Unlike individual health insurance where an individual makes the decision on the right policy to purchase, employers make the decision on the best group health cover to purchase for their employees. The SHOP Marketplace is, however, unique in that employees can choose the health plans they think are best suited for them. A few months back the employee choice option was only available in some states but now employees in all states can choose their ideal insurance plan in the marketplace.
Group insurance in the past only made sense to large businesses. Small businesses with only a few members of staff opted to offer a health insurance allowance and let their employees make the decision on the best policy to purchase. Thanks to the SHOP Marketplace even small business owners can now offer affordable group insurance and make use of tax credits to considerably bring down the overall premium cost at the end of the day.
There are many advantages associated with health insurance purchased on the SHOP Marketplace. These include;
– The SHOP marketplace gives small business owners the purchasing power that only large corporations had a few years back when it came to health insurance for staff members.
– The marketplace makes it easy for employers and individuals alike to shop for the best covers they can get in the market. Self-employed individuals use the individual marketplace while employers use the shop exchange when purchasing an insurance cover.
– The marketplace is highly competitive which is good as getting great deals is easy.
– The content on the marketplace is easy to understand. People, therefore, do not need to get insurance agents to help them understand what each cover has to offer.
– Employers can apply for the SHOP coverage at any time of the year and the application can be completed online with relative ease.
Generally, the SHOP Marketplace is a great place for small business employers to get affordable health plans for staff members. Medium-sized to large businesses with over 100 staff members are expected to the able to use the marketplace anytime within the year. Currently, however, they can only use private brokers to purchase health insurance for their members of staff.