Most people admit they don’t like change; but the simple truth is that change is inevitable and therefore the best way to deal with change is to find a way to make it work for you.
This is particularly the case when it comes to the new Health Insurance legislation (ACA, Obamacare). One of the most affected area for 2015 is that of small business health insurance, which for the first time ever has been offered access to the government’s new SHOP program.
What is SHOP?
SHOP is short for Small Business Health Options Program; and forms part of the HealthCare.gov act that was passed as law in 2010. SHOP was officially opened for business in late 2014 for businesses with less than 50 employees.
The primary aim of SHOP is to help small business owners offer employees affordable health care options. In the past, this has been a problem, as most smaller enterprises could not afford the cost of offering health benefits to all employees.
How does SHOP work and who can access its benefits?
SHOP reduces rates by banding small businesses together in order to improve negotiating leverage with health insurance providers. This also reduces the systemwide risk for the insurers.
SHOP is not offered to small business owners who have no employees; these people will need to apply through the Health Insurance Market for Individuals.
An application needs to be completed to see if your small business is in fact eligible for SHOP. Then, the process proceeds as follows:
- Applications can be done via an online process whereby business owners apply on the SHOP site, they then create a profile. Once they have been approved for SHOP they can then choose plans they want to offer their employees.
- The next step is to add all of the individual employees by means of employee name and number.
- Premiums are calculated and paid via the online payment process.
- Business owners can choose between several plans or options which are not available to bigger corporations.
- Once the plans have been chosen employees can then choose which plan suits them best.
- SHOP is only available to businesses with 50 or less employees; in fact a 50% rebate is available for all qualifying businesses that apply for SHOP and have 25 or less employees.
- The entire process can be done in 5 simple steps that can be handed over to an existing broker or a new one if need be.
Benefits of SHOP
- Business owners can do the application process themselves or select their own broker on the applications page.
- Business owners have full control over how much their small business health insurance costs will be; allowing for easier budgeting and payments.
- There is no period limit as to when one can join SHOP; and employers can decide on how long employees open enrollment periods will be.
- Multiple small business owners can choose various plans for each business and can also select entire categories for their small business health insurance that they want employees to choose from.
- Previously expensive and unattainable health insurance will become readily available to people from all walks of life.
- Employers and employees alike have full control over their health insurance plans.
Although there were a few glitches when the system launched late last year (2014), these don’t affect the health insurance plans one chooses. The signup process may test your patience, but once sorted SHOP will become a staple part of any small business whether they have one or 50 employees.
The general interest in SHOP os small right now, but like any type of change, once people start to understand its benefits and realize that it won’t cause harm, they will start to embrace it.
History has proven that something that may be slow to start for whatever reasons could quickly gain momentum as the population starts to understand and experience it on a personal level. This is what the government is hopeful will be the case when it comes to SHOP and the new health insurance reforms that have been implemented recently.