The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace helps small businesses provide health coverage to their employees.
The SHOP Marketplace is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). This includes non-profit organizations. You can apply for SHOP coverage any time, there’s no restricted enrollment period like there is in the individual Marketplace. Additionally, enrolling in a SHOP Marketplace plan is generally the only way to claim the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.
There’s a new way to sign up for SHOP health and/or dental plans that start on or after January 1, 2018. You can either work with a SHOP-registered insurance agent or broker or work directly with your insurance company. You can no longer select, apply for, enroll in or manage coverage through Healthcare.gov.
Find more information about working with a SHOP-registered agent or broker or locate one in your area here.
If you're self-employed with no employees, you can get health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for individuals, but not through SHOP. However, a new Virginia law broadened the states definition of “small employer” to include self-employed individuals (sole proprietor businesses). This change allows self-employed individuals to purchase a small business plan, but not a SHOP Marketplace plan. They will still not be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.
Virginia Benefits Market
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce is also offering a new private health insurance marketplace, the Virginia Benefits Market. The Virginia Benefits Market is a private health insurance and benefits exchange that provides businesses access to a one-stop, online marketplace to shop and compare health insurance and other benefits in a simple, and streamlined fashion.
A unique attribute of Virginia Benefits Market is that all employees that enroll on the platform are offered an opportunity to purchase each and every ancillary coverage offered. This individualized shopping experience allows the employee to create their own unique benefits package.
Additionally, the platform fully supports defined contribution methodology that can help employers control costs while at the same time allow employees to more effectively use the employer’s contribution to purchase the benefits that are best suited for them
For more information about the Virginia Benefits Market, visit their website.