One resource for Illinois small business owners is the Small Business Health Insurance Options Program, or SHOP, where employers can compare group health insurance options. The SHOP is open year-round for small employers to browse, compare plans, and fill out applications online.
The Benefits of SHOPping Around
Buying health insurance through the SHOP can help small businesses save money. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, total spending on healthcare by small businesses will decrease by 8.7% because of provisions in the healthcare law. Small employers that offer coverage through the marketplace may be eligible for a tax credit that can cover up to 50% of their employees’ premiums. The Small Business Majority’s tax credit calculator shows if small businesses are eligible for the credit and how much money they could receive.
There are even more benefits to buying a SHOP plan, because small businesses will no longer be charged more for female workers, who had been paying up to 50% more for their premiums before the healthcare reform law. In addition, employers will no longer pay more for workers with pre-existing conditions and will benefit from new limits regulating health insurance costs for older workers.
Health & Disability Advocates, a non-profit with 16 full-time employees, is an example of a small organization that used the SHOP and found a better deal. Both HDA and its employees gained – the non-profit is now spending approximately $20,000 less on healthcare, while its workers have lower premiums and have access to a wider network.
The Downside of Sticking With Your Current Plan
As many as 80% of companies with up to 50 employees opted to renew their non-compliant plans for 2014, and a similar percentage will likely try to do so this year. Small business owners who decide to renew their old plan may not save money and may instead see a price increase for 2015. This is why investigating all health insurance options, including those offered through the SHOP, could benefit small businesses. Many could save money by purchasing a plan through the health insurance marketplace, or through selecting a plan with better coverage for about the same cost.
How to Start
In order to begin the enrollment process and explore options, Illinois small businesses can visit the SHOP online, or contact a certified health insurance broker to assist with the enrollment process. The more small business owners know, the easier it will be for them to get their employees more-affordable insurance coverage. Once owners have found a reasonable option for their small business, they can stop worrying about health insurance and do what they do best – run the companies that make up the backbone of our state and our nation.
Director, West and Midwest
Small Business Majority