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If you’re the owner of a small business, you might wonder about the health insurance changes implemented by the Affordable Care Act. Health insurance requirements for businesses have been altered, but you also have new avenues to find an affordable employee healthcare policy. One of these alternatives is the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). SHOP is an online marketplace that will allow you to evaluate business health insurance policies and sign up to offer your chosen plan to your employees.

Who Is Eligible for SHOP?
In 2014, you’re eligible to use SHOP if your business employs 50 workers or fewer. In many states, 70 percent or more of your full-time employees must enroll in the company’s health insurance for you to qualify to use SHOP. However, this calculation does not count employees who have coverage through another employer, Medicaid, Medicare or the military. As a business owner, you also qualify to enroll in the SHOP healthcare plan you offer your employees.

Should My Business Participate?
You don’t have to buy health insurance through SHOP, but there are a few potential benefits for using the program. All plans offered through SHOP will fulfill the Affordable Care Act requirements, which will make it easier to choose a plan. Also, if your business has less than 25 full-time employees who earn an average of $50,000 per year or less, your business could be eligible for the Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit. Your company only qualifies for this tax credit if you use SHOP to purchase employee health insurance. However, if your business qualifies, it can receive a tax credit worth up to 50 percent of your company’s premium payments.

You should know, however, that SHOP does not guarantee the best possible insurance rates, just the ability to accurately compare them. It’s unknown how the SHOP health insurance plan premiums will compare to the policies available by other means, so it’s a good idea to examine all of your options before signing up. In most cases, the possible savings will vary depending on the type of workforce you employ. Talk with an insurance agent to find out what will make the best financial sense for your business.

Do I Need An Insurance Agent to Use SHOP?
You can sign up for health insurance through SHOP with or without an insurance agent. However, you won’t save any money by purchasing a policy on SHOP by yourself: using an agent will not increase the cost of your insurance premiums. For this reason, it’s a good idea to talk with an agent before picking a health insurance plan. A good insurance agent will be able to find the best policy to fit your company’s budget and goals. The agent will also handle the associated paperwork, so you can spend your time managing your business.

If you’d like to discuss your company’s healthcare options with a qualified professional, call us at 888-888-8888.

Posted 11:31 AM  View Comments

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