Today, small employers like you have a tough time finding and affording coverage that meets the needs of your employees. Starting in 2014, you’ll have more choice and control over your health insurance spending through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), a new program designed to simplify the process of finding health insurance for your small business.
You control the coverage you offer
You choose the level of coverage you’ll offer, and define how much you’ll contribute towards your employees’ coverage.
Access to tax benefits
You’ll also have exclusive access to an expanded Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit. This tax credit covers as much as 50% of the employer contribution toward premium costs for eligible employers who have low- to moderate-wage workers.
When you get insurance through the SHOP, it makes it easy for you take advantage of other tax breaks too including the chance for you and your employees to use pre-tax dollars to make your premium payments.
New consumer protections
You and your employees will also benefit from new protections that help you get real value for your premium dollars. There are new limits on the higher premiums insurers can charge businesses with older employees, and an employee with high health care costs no longer increases your group’s premium. There are also new limits on the share of premiums going to insurers’ profits and administrative costs.
Insurance plans run by private companies
The health insurance plans available in the SHOP will be run by private health insurance companies, the same way small group plans are run now. All plans will offer the same benefits as a “typical” employer plan, including real protection against financial catastrophe.
Plans will present their cost and coverage information in a standard format, using plain language that’s clear and easy for you to understand. You and your employees will be able to easily compare plans based on price, coverage, quality and other features that are important to you.
Use your broker, or shop on your own
You can use your existing insurance broker to access the SHOP, or you can shop for plans yourself, without a broker. You can review pricing and coverage in apples-to-apples comparisons, complete a single application, and choose the level of coverage that works for your budget, your business, and your employees.
Watch for more information in October 2013
Starting in October, you’ll be able to get information about all the plans available in your area. You and your employees will be able to enroll through your broker, directly through the website, or by calling a toll-free phone hotline.