Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)

A new way to shop

The Affordable Care Act introduced a new way for small business employers to shop for group health insurance. SHOP is an online marketplace where eligible employers can choose coverage options for their employees and where their employees can shop for insurance.

Learn more about the SHOP plans UnitedHealthcare offers.

A broker or insurance agent can help employers choose coverage options for their employees through the SHOP Marketplace. Employers can also choose to work directly with us or shop on their own through a SHOP Marketplace.

What employers can offer plans through the SHOP?

  • In most states, eligible employers must have 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees to participate in the SHOP Marketplace. In California, Colorado, New York and Vermont, eligible employers may have up to 100 full-time equivalent employees.
  • Employers pay a portion of the premium, but no federal subsidy assistance is available to employees who purchase health insurance through the SHOP.
  • Small business employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees are not required by health reform law to offer health insurance.

What is the Small Business Tax Credit?

The Small Business Tax Credit is available to employers with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees (not counting owners or their family members) who earn less than about $56,000 annually.

  • These employers must pay 50 percent of the premiums to qualify, but they may also be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50 percent.
  • This is a temporary tax credit.

What plans are offered through the SHOP?

Employers may choose one plan or, in many states, have the option to offer multiple plans to employees through the SHOP.

  • The plans offered through SHOP:
    • Meet Essential Health Benefits requirements.
    • Meet minimum value requirements because the plan pays at least 60 percent or more of the plan's total allowed benefit costs anticipated for a standard population.
    • Are available in four insurance plan categories or metal levels known as Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.


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