Small Businesses In Five States Will Get Early Access To SHOP Exchanges

Small business in Delaware, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and New Jersey will be able to access the online portal for the Small Business Options Program (SHOP) Exchange in late October ahead of the November 15 start of open enrollment, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. By providing this “soft launch” period, any problems encountered through the online portal will be able to be fixed by the start of open enrollment for the federally-facilitated SHOPs.

SHOP Exchange. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) SHOP Exchanges are intended to improve access to health coverage for small business owners and their employees. SHOP Exchanges are available to employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, and tax credits are available for employers with fewer than 25 employees making an average of less than $50,000.

Soft launch. During the early access period, first reported by The Washington Post, small employers will be able to create accounts, select a broker, verify their eligibility and upload employee information.

Participating small businesses in the rest of the states will have to wait until November to begin shopping for plans and comparing prices. This is the first time that online enrollment in SHOPs will be available. Last year, online enrollment in the SHOP Exchanges was delayed, and small employers were only allowed to sign-up for SHOP coverage through paper applications.
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