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Small Business Health Option Programs (SHOP)

(Delayed for one year)

Small Health Option Program (SHOP):

Small Business Healthcare Market Place Delayed for One Year: Tax Credits Still Available

A new delay in the availability of the federal government's online insurance marketplace for small business enrollments is prompting criticim from congressional Republicans and a small buiness group, who argue that such fimrs are being left in teh cold by the Obama administration.

The Department of Health and Human Services said Nov. 27 that its online marketplace for small businesses is now expected to be ready in November 2014, rather than the previous plan of opening it by NOvember 30, 2013.

Becuase of the delay, the government is opening direct enrollment for small businesses to sign up immediately through an insurer, agent, or broker.  This means thatfor 2014, small employers will use "direct enrollment" on paper applicaitons to HHS rather than through the site in states where teh federal goverment is running the marketplace.

Companies in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) may qualify for a small business health care tax credit worth up to 50percent of employer-paid premium costs, but critics have said the delays in online enrollment may cause problems for those attempting to comply with the law.

The individual shared-responsiblity part of Affordable Care Act, which requires individuals to have health insurance by April 1, 2014 or face tax penalties, has not been delayed.  The Obama administration announced in July that employers with the equivalent of at least 50 full-time employees would be exmpted from tax penalties until 2015.


 If you are a small business owner the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) has been established to assist the business owners provide health insurance for their employees. SHOP is a new program that simplifies the process of buying health insurance for your small business

For 2014, the SHOP Marketplace is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees (FTEs). The advantages of using SHOP include:
  • Control the coverage that is offered and how much is paid toward employee premiums.
  • A comparison of the health plans is available online on an apples-to-apples basis, which helps with the decision of what is right for your business. One online application, you can complete on your own or with the help of an agent, broker, or other assister. Then you can compare price, coverage, and quality of plans in a way that's easy to understand.
  • The business may qualify for a small business health care tax credit worth up to 50% of the health insurance premium costs. A deduction from your taxes is available for the rest of the premium costs not covered by the tax credit. Beginning 2014 the tax credit is available only for plans purchased through SHOP.       
  • There will be a SHOP Marketplace in each state. The business must have an office or employee work site within the SHOP's service area to use that particular SHOP. The online application will guide you to the right SHOP for you.

How to know if you qualify for the SHOP Marketplace

  • In 2014, SHOP is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. Beginning in 2016, all SHOPs will be open to employers with up to 100 FTEs: If you're self-employed with no employees, you can get coverage through the individual market Health Insurance Marketplace, but not through SHOP.
  • If you plan to use SHOP, coverage must be offered to all of the full-time employees–generally those working 30 or more hours per week on average.
  • In many states, at least 70% of the full-time employees must enroll in the SHOP plan. See “How many of my employees must enroll in SHOP?” on your state link.