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Press release: Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will be ready for open enrollment on October 1

Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will be ready for open enrollment on October 1
For Immediate Release
Friday, May 31, 2013

Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will be ready for open enrollment on October 1
SHOP will offer employers multiple clear health insurance options and simplify making coverage available to employees

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) moved forward today with the release of a final rule and the application that provides small employers with easy-to-understand access to health insurance options for their employees.  

Beginning on October 1, 2013, small employers will be able to choose from a range of coverage options through the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, for their employees for coverage beginning on January 1, 2014.  The SHOP will offer a single point of entry for employers and their employees to apply for coverage, and if eligible, the employer may qualify for a tax credit worth up to 50 percent of the employer’s premium contribution.

“Starting October 1, small business employers will have access to the Small Business Health Options Program, which will allow them to choose from a range of plans and select the plan that best meets the needs of their employees,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  “Small businesses have never had an easy time purchasing insurance, and this makes it price accessible and easier to do.”     

Today, CMS moved forward in finalizing the SHOP applications employers and their employees will use to apply for coverage in the SHOP starting on October 1.  The applications released today reflect feedback from small businesses and other key stakeholders received during the two public comment periods.  These applications are simpler than existing small group market insurance applications.  The employee and employer paper applications are two and three pages respectively, and the online application is dynamic in nature so that applicants only answer questions relevant to their situation.

Additionally, in a final rule released today, CMS finalized a previously proposed transitional policy.  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 that the employer chooses.  The Federally-facilitated SHOP will allow employers to choose one 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 more information on today’s announcement, you can view the final SHOP applications here: Insurance Exchanges and the final rule here: