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Some Small Businesses Get Early Access to Health Insurance Marketplace Today

By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

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The Department of Health and Human Services announced today that early access to SHOP (The federally-facilitated Small Business Health Options Program) opened today to help employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees in Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, and Ohio to enroll in health care insurance plans. 

“SHOP Early Access” will allow small businesses, agents, and brokers to try out new online pre-enrollment SHOP features, and help set the stage for the full online debut on November 15, HHS announced. 

Small businesses, health insurance agents, and brokers and trained assisters are getting an early chance to use the pre-enrollment features between now and when online enrollment in SHOP coverage begins nationwide. Early Access users will help the federal government to test new online features before the site goes live in mid-November.

HHS says the new features allow small businesses to establish a Marketplace SHOP account, assign a SHOP agent/broker to their account, complete an employer SHOP eligibility application, obtain an eligibility determination from the FF-SHOP, and upload an employee roster. Employers will also be able to browse 2015 SHOP plans and pricing as soon as these are available in November, allowing them to decide which plans to offer their employees for this round of Open Enrollment.

SHOP offers businesses with 1 to 50 employees a choice of health and dental plans, and tools to help employers make informed decisions about health insurance coverage. On November 15, the SHOP Marketplace will launch to make it possible for employers and employees across the country to enroll directly through HealthCare.gov in qualified health and dental plans for coverage in 2015.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is designed to make buying health coverage easier and more affordable. The Marketplace allows businesses to:

  • Compare health insurance plans
  • Get answers to questions about your health care
  • Find out if you are eligible for tax credits for private insurance or health programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Enroll in a health insurance plan that meets your needs

The next Open Enrollment period runs November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015 for coverage that begins as early as January 1, 2015. Learn more at HealthCare.gov.

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