Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Small Business Health Options Program Delayed

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that for “transitional purposes” it will delay by one year (until 2015) the Small Business Health Options Program, known as SHOP , that gives employees of small businesses a choice among health plans obtained through the new exchanges created in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Small-business employees will still be able to get insurance, but the states have the option to limit that to one choice - rather than a variety of plans - for the first year. In 2015, these employees will be able to choose from the full range of plans in the marketplace.

SHOP was designed to simplify the process of finding health insurance for small businesses. The health insurance plans available in the program will be run by private health insurance companies, the same way small group plans are run now. Small businesses can chose the level of coverage they will offer, and define how much they will contribute towards their employees’ coverage. Stay tuned for more details on an educational SHOP webinar for AHCA/NCAL members that will occur this summer.

It is important to note that in general, you are considered a small business if you have up to 50 employees. The ACA does not require small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to provide coverage to their workers. However, those small businesses with fewer than 25 employees that do provider coveragewill have 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. If you need assistance determining if your small business or tax exempt organization qualifies for the credit, try this step-by-step guide.

If you have any questions on SHOP, tax credits or other health reform related provisions, please visit our ACA webpage or email

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