Guide to health insurance for small business employees

Small business employees have several options for getting health insurance coverage. Here’s what you need to know about:

SHOP coverage

SHOP insurance plans are generally available to small businesses with 1-50 employees. If your employer offers health insurance through SHOP, you'll get offer information from your employer or its insurance company.

You’ll have the option to accept or decline your employer’s offer. Read the offer carefully. Make sure you understand the coverage and costs, including the premium, deductible, copayments, and coinsurance.

Note: If you’re considering coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace®, but have a coverage offer from your employer, you may not qualify for income-based premium tax credits or savings on your plan.

Employees may still be eligible for premium tax credits if the plan you offer isn’t considered “affordable”. Affordability is based on how much the employee pays for coverage for themselves and their dependents. If the plan isn’t affordable, the employee may enroll in a Marketplace plan instead.

More health coverage options

If you decline your employer’s offer or your employer doesn’t offer coverage, you have other options for getting coverage:

  • Marketplace health plans: Employees of small businesses can enroll in qualified health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace®. The federal government operates the Individual Marketplace at HealthCare.gov for most states. Some states run their own Marketplaces. Enrolling through the Marketplace is the only way to qualify for income-based premium tax credits or savings.
  • Other health insurance products and services: You can also buy a health or dental insurance plan directly from an insurance company, through an agent or broker, or from an online seller. You can't get a premium tax credit or other savings based on your income if you buy a plan outside of the Marketplace. Find products and services for small business employees.

Questions?

  • Contact the SHOP Call Center at 1-800-706-7893 (TTY: 711) weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.