How Small Businesses Can Offer Healthcare Coverage Through Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act, which is often referred to as Obamacare, was enacted in 2010 to make affordable healthcare insurance available to all, expand the Medicaid program, and support medical care delivery. Also, the Act requires that individuals pay a fee if they do not have healthcare coverage unless they are eligible for an exemption. Individuals are required to enroll annually from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.


What is the SHOP plan?


Along with the Act, the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) program was established to ensure employers are also able to offer healthcare insurance to its employees. Through the program, employers can provide healthcare and dental coverage to its employees throughout the year (outside of the enrollment period).


What should employers know?


Employers (small businesses or nonprofits) are required to have at least one full-time employee or equivalent, up to 50 employees. Employers can choose to offer one healthcare plan or allow employees to choose between multiple healthcare options. Employers are required to provide healthcare coverage to all employees within 90 days of the employee’s official start date.

Also, employers can set the amount to pay for the employee premiums and determine whether to offer dependent coverage or not. Lastly, employers may be eligible to receive the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to offset costs. An employer may qualify if it has fewer than 25 full-time employees earning $50,000 or less.  For more information to determine whether your business qualifies, visit here.


How can employers enroll?


Keep in mind; you must have at least one full-time equivalent employee to enroll. If you are self-employed without any employees, you are required to register through the Marketplace during open enrollment season, unless you have a life-changing event, such as the birth of a baby, loss of a job, a divorce, etc. Employers can enroll by visiting or contacting their healthcare agent or broker.