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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) final rule, which will assist small employers with health insurance options for their employees.
As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), beginning in 2014, individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase private health insurance through competitive marketplaces, called Affordable Insurance Exchanges or "Exchanges."
The Affordable Care Act contemplates that each state will have a SHOP that assists qualified employers in providing health insurance options for their employees.
The Small Business Health Options Program allows small employers (50 or less full time employees) to choose from a variety of coverage options if they choose to provide health insurance coverage for their employees.
Small employers may qualify for a tax credit worth up to 50% of the employers premium contribution.
The program begins on Oct. 1, 2013, for the coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2014.
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 of the employer's choosing.
The federally facilitated SHOP will allow employers to choose 1 plan from a range of plans to offer their employees in 2014.
In 2015 onward, all SHOPs will allow small businesses to let their employees choose coverage from a number of plans.
For those small businesses that cannot apply online or that are not using an insurance broker for such coverage, CMS released the SHOP application.