Health Insurance Options for Small Businesses

If your brokerage has between 1 and 50 full-time employees, you will soon have new options for offering them health insurance coverage.

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), a product of the Affordable Care Act, will be ready for enrollment on Oct. 1, 2013. Through the program, small employers will be able to choose coverage options for their employees, with coverage beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.

A call center (800-706-7893) is now open to answer employers' questions about the SHOP and to assist employers in filling out the application. The SHOP and the call center are administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

If you take advantage of the SHOP, have fewer than 25 employees, and meet other criteria, you may qualify for a small business health care tax credit worth up to 50% of your premium costs. You can still deduct from your taxes the rest of your premium costs not covered by the tax credit. Beginning 2014, the tax credit is available only for plans purchased through the SHOP.

For more information about the SHOP, visit the Small Business page on