I'd like to consider offering health insurance for my business with fewer than 50 workers. Can I find insurance for them in the new Marketplace being set up in my state? continued...
The other Marketplace, called SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program), is for small-business owners like you. About half the states work in partnership with the federal government or run their own SHOP. The other half rely on the federal government to run the SHOP for their residents through HealthCare.gov. You can log on to HealthCare.gov to find the SHOP for your state. In the states that use the federal SHOP, you can compare plans online. But you must apply and enroll through an agent, broker, or insurance company. By late 2014, you should also be able to enroll through Healthcare.gov.
You will be able to compare the costs and benefits of the plans in SHOP and then select one plan to offer your workers. All the plans that are offered in SHOP will use a standard format to explain their coverage and prices. And they will all use plain language to describe their policies.
Beginning in 2015, more choices will be available to your employees. Through your state's SHOP, you will select the level of coverage you want to offer your employees (bronze, silver, gold, or platinum) and how much money you wish to contribute to the cost of their insurance. Employees will then be able to select from the range of plans that meet the criteria you have set.
I already provide insurance for the 24 employees of my art-supply company. Can I keep offering the plans we have now?
Yes, you can continue to offer your current health plans to your employees. These plans won't need to offer some of the new benefits that are required by the health reform law if they are "grandfathered." Your company's plans may be considered "grandfathered" if they existed on March 23, 2010, and have not substantially changed.
However, there are situations that could make the health plan you offer lose its "grandfathered" status. For example, if the plan makes major changes, such as significantly cutting benefits or raising the premium or cost sharing, it will lose its "grandfathered" status.