When people think about the Affordable Care Act, they often picture the millions of Americans who now have the health and financial security that come with having access to quality and affordable coverage through the individual Health Insurance Marketplace. What some may forget is that the Affordable Care Act is also helping our nation’s small businesses provide health coverage to their employees.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, small business owners struggled to keep up with the ever-rising cost of health insurance for themselves and their employees. Historically, small businesses have been charged a higher percentage for the same benefits compared to large employers, and were often presented with a limited number of choices to offer employees. Small businesses employing women, workers with a high-cost illness or injury, or employees with pre-existing conditions faced even higher insurance rates, making it all the more difficult to provide access to coverage. Meanwhile, larger companies that have hundreds or even thousands of employees benefited from the ability to use their size to get a better deal for their workers.
The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplaces, established under the Affordable Care Act, provide small employers with a new and innovative opportunity to address these concerns, offering them a choice of high-quality health and dental plans for their employees. SHOP Marketplaces offer flexibility, choice, and the convenience of account management.
Eligible employers can begin participating in the SHOP Marketplaces at any time during the year, and unlike the individual Marketplaces, are not limited to a single open enrollment period. Employers with fewer than 25 full-time-equivalent employees may qualify for a Small Business Health Care Tax Credit worth up to 50 percent of their contributions to premium costs.
We look forward to continuing to meet the needs of small businesses and continuing to provide their employees access to a broad choice of high quality, affordable health care.