The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is for small employers who want to provide health and/or dental insurance to their employees — affordably, flexibly, and conveniently.

  • To purchase SHOP insurance, your business or non-profit organization must have 1-50 employees.
  • If eligible, you don't have to wait for an Open Enrollment Period. You can start offering SHOP coverage to your employees any time of year.

Self-employed with no employees?

Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace. SHOP is for businesses with at least one full-time equivalent (FTE) employee (other than owners, partners, or family members). Learn more if you're self-employed.

4 reasons to offer SHOP coverage

  1. SHOP insurance gives you choice and flexibility. You can:

    • Offer your employees one plan, or let them choose from multiple
    • Offer only health coverage, only dental coverage, or both
    • Choose how much you pay toward your employees' premiums, and whether to offer coverage to their dependents
    • Decide how long new employees must wait before enrolling
  2. Get the information you need in one location. You can make an informed decision about your SHOP insurance options with the tools at

  3. You can work with an agent or broker. You can use your current SHOP-registered agent or broker or find a new one to help you enroll in coverage.

  4. You may be able to get a Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. Enrolling in SHOP insurance is generally the only way for small businesses to take advantage of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. You may qualify if you have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees making an average of about $50,000 or less.

Offering SHOP insurance

Once you're ready to enroll in SHOP coverage, you can work with an agent or broker or a health insurance company to enroll.

Find out more about enrolling in SHOP insurance.


More answers: Overview of SHOP: Health insurance for small businesses

Do I have to provide insurance to my employees?

If you have 1-50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, you're not required to provide insurance to your employees. You can, however, choose to offer insurance through SHOP or any other source. But you don't have to, and there's no penalty if you don't.

If you have 50 or more employees, learn about the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment.

Can I enroll in the SHOP coverage I offer my employees?

Yes, as long as at least one of your employees (who isn't a business owner, partner or family member) enrolls in your coverage.

If my only employee is my spouse or a family member, can I use SHOP to cover us both?

Generally, no. Spouses and family members don't count when determining if your business is eligible to use SHOP. To be eligible, you must have 1-50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees who aren’t business owners, partners, or family members.

Can my employees enroll in SHOP coverage after the initial enrollment period?

Yes, but only if they qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to a life change, like having a baby, adopting a child, or getting married.

For new employees hired after your initial SHOP enrollment period, you can decide on a waiting period before coverage can become effective. Waiting periods can't exceed 90 days.