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Obamacare SHOP Is Open for Businesses

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on December 01, 2014 10:56 AM

More than a year after the Obamacare website had announced an online marketplace for business owners, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is finally open.

According to The Washington Post, HealthCare.gov officially launched its small business-focused section two weeks ago, but traffic has been a bit slow. Despite health plan options being offered through the newly opened SHOP, early reports indicate that businesses haven't exactly surged toward the site.

Why not? And what should your small business know about the Obamacare SHOP?

A Fraction of Individual Insurance Seekers

Though SHOP hasn't been open that long, the response to its launch has been lukewarm. The Post reports that the Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) found that the SHOP section received a fraction of the traffic that Healthcare.gov's individual insurance section did in the same week of its launch -- about 13 percent.

The U.S. Government Accountability office highlighted this lack of engagement in a report in mid-November, finding that small businesses were unlikely to enroll in SHOP plans because of:

  • Confusion about SHOP availability;
  • Phasing out of pre-SHOP plans; and
  • Limits on small business tax credits.

Before you write off SHOP as irrelevant, consider these points.

Small Business Tax Credits Are Available

Small business tax credits aren't exactly news under Obamacare, but many business owners were confused about whether their enterprises were eligible and for how much. According to the SHOP Marketplace, "[t]he small the business, the bigger the [tax] credit." Intrigued? Check out the site's SHOP Tax Credit Estimator to see how much you can save.

Employer Mandate Effective by Jan 1, 2015

Barring some sudden act of Congress or intervention by the Supreme Court, many small businesses will have to provide their employees a minimum level of healthcare by January 1, 2015. This mandate was initially slated for January 1, 2014, but it was delayed to give businesses time to assess their options.

Your business has now had ample time, and the SHOP marketplace should provide a graphically friendly way to explore your options to meet this deadline.

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