Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) provides quality, affordable health and dental insurance for small businesses and their employees. SHOP plans are offered by private insurance companies and cover essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions.

Ready to enroll in SHOP coverage? You can work with a SHOP-registered insurance agent or broker, or handle everything yourself through your insurance company. Learn more about how to enroll in SHOP insurance (PDF).

Making a SHOP health insurance decision

You can enroll in SHOP coverage year-round. To find the best plan for your business and employees, think about price, benefits, and features. You may also want to consider:

  • Whether to offer your employees one plan or a choice of plans
  • Whether to offer medical coverage, dental coverage, or both
  • How much of your employees' premiums you’ll pay
  • Whether to offer coverage to dependents and part-time employees
  • When coverage starts
  • How long new employees must wait before they get a coverage offer

You should check SHOP availability in your state. Some states may use their own websites for enrolling and managing SHOP coverage. Select your state to find out.

Understanding SHOP insurance categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum

When you compare SHOP insurance, you'll see 4 categories of plans. The categories have nothing to do with the quality of care. They're based on how the insurance company and your employees will share the costs of care.

  • Bronze: The health plan covers about 60% of the total costs of care. The employee pays about 40%.
  • Silver: The health plan covers about 70% of the total costs of care. The employee pays about 30%.
  • Gold: The health plan covers about 80% of the total costs of care. The employee pays about 20%.
  • Platinum: The health plan covers about 90% of the total costs of care. The employee pays about 10%.

Choosing a free-standing dental plan

If you want to, you can add dental coverage to your SHOP insurance offer or offer dental insurance by itself without a SHOP health plan. Learn more about SHOP dental coverage.

Some SHOP health insurance plans also include dental benefits. If you pick a plan that includes dental coverage, you don’t need to select a separate dental plan.

Enrolling in coverage

For coverage starting on or after January 1, 2018, you'll work with your insurance company or an agent or broker to apply and enroll in SHOP insurance.

You'll no longer use

Offering SHOP insurance to your employees

Once you’ve picked a plan, contact the insurance company or an agent or broker to enroll and make an offer to your employees. You may need to provide some information about your business and employees.

You'll work with your insurance company or your SHOP-registered agent or broker to provide your employees with the information they'll need about your offer and how and when they can enroll.

To successfully enroll your small business in SHOP, a certain percentage of your employees must accept your coverage offer. See if you'll meet the minimum participation rate.

IMPORTANT: Didn't meet the minimum participation requirement?

You can still enroll in SHOP insurance November 15 - December 15 each year. The minimum participation rate is not enforced during this time.

Paying premiums & managing coverage

After you've met the participation requirement, you can submit your enrollment. Talk with your insurance company or SHOP-registered agent or broker to make sure you're aware of any monthly deadlines for completing your enrollment.

For 2018 SHOP coverage, you'll pay your premiums to your insurance company, not

If you need to make changes or updates to your SHOP coverage during the year, contact your insurance company. Your agent or broker may be able to help as well.

Verifying your eligibility at

If you're enrolling in SHOP insurance for the first time or have had a gap in SHOP coverage, you need to confirm that your business meets certain requirements to enroll in SHOP insurance. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you'll get a certificate from SHOP. Keep it for your business' records.

If you're renewing existing SHOP coverage, you don't need to verify your eligibility.


More Answers: How to offer employee SHOP health insurance

As a small business employer, do I have to offer insurance to my employees' dependents?

Generally no, but some states require it. Check with your state's Department of Insurance.

Dependents can accept or reject your offer. If they decline it, they can enroll in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, but won't be eligible for savings through premium tax credits or cost sharing reductions. They'd have to pay full price.

If I don't offer insurance to dependents, can they get insurance through the marketplace?

Yes. If the dependents don't have access to other health insurance, they can get insurance through the Marketplace. Depending on the entire household income, they may qualify for savings through premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions.

What if there are no SHOP plans available in my area?

You may still be able to enroll in a small group health plan through an agent or broker or directly with a health insurance company. However, it may not be considered SHOP coverage, and you may not be able to claim the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. See what plans outside of SHOP may be available to you at, or search for an agent or broker in your area.