Small Business Health Options Program prepares for open enrollment

Beginning Oct. 1, small employers will be able to choose from a range of health care coverage options through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) for their employees.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a final rule and the application that provides small employers with easy-to-understand access to health insurance options for their employees, for coverage beginning on Jan. 1, 2014. SHOP will offer a single point of entry for employers and their employees to apply for coverage, and if eligible, the employer may qualify for a tax credit worth up to 50% of the employer’s premium contribution.

“Starting Oct. 1, small business employers will have access to the Small Business Health Options Program, which will allow them to choose from a range of plans and select the plan that best meets the needs of their employees,” said CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Small businesses have never had an easy time purchasing insurance, and this makes it price accessible and easier to do.”

The employee and employer paper applications are two and three pages respectively, and the online application is dynamic so that applicants only answer questions relevant to their situation.

Additionally, in 2014, SHOPs will have the flexibility to decide whether employers can let their employees choose from a number of plans, or can offer their employees one plan that the employer chooses. The federally-facilitated SHOP will allow employers to choose one plan from a range of plans to offer their employees in 2014.

To view the final SHOP applications, visit Insurance Exchanges

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