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Marketplace opens to assist small businesses with health insurance
The Department of Health and Human Services is ramping up its education and outreach efforts for America’s small businesses on the Affordable Care Act. In coordination with other organizations, the campaign will help small employers learn more about how to take advantage of the Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP), part of the Health Insurance Marketplace that opened Oct. 1.
SHOP is designed for small employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees. On their own or with the help of an agent, broker, or other assister, small employers will be able to compare price, coverage, and quality of plans in a way that is easy to understand.
Employers buying health insurance through the SHOP Marketplace may also qualify for a Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to help defray their premium costs. Small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time-equivalent employees have already received a tax credit of up to 35 percent of their contribution to employees’ health-insurance premiums. Beginning in 2014, this tax credit will be worth as much as 50 percent of the employer’s contribution to premiums and will be available only to those purchasing coverage through the SHOP.
In addition, starting in 2014, small employers have additional protections in the insurance market, including that no one can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Unlike individuals purchasing through the Marketplace, small employers can enroll in insurance plans through the SHOP on a monthly basis throughout the year. The SHOP Marketplace for federally facilitated Marketplace states opened Oct. 1, when small employers could start the application process and get an overview of available plans and premiums in their area. All functions for SHOP will be available in November and if employers and employees enroll by Dec. 15, 2013, coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2014. Detailed information on the SHOP application and enrollment process are available at HealthCare.gov.
Beginning Oct. 1, the dedicated SHOP Small Employer Call Center at 1-800-706-7893 will offer extended hours Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Employers may call the SHOP Small Employer call center for assistance when completing an application. This call center will also refer employers in states running their own SHOP Marketplace to the correct contact information for their state.
For information, visit Marketplace.cms.gov. Re-sources are also available at Business.usa.gov/healthcare.
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