The Obama Administration has delayed by one year the launch of the federal small-business exchange website. The “Small Business Health Options Program” (SHOP) will eventually work alongside the individual health care exchange, with one website serving individuals and the other small businesses (50 or fewer workers). The exchanges are intended to allow consumers to compare costs and coverage for a variety of plans, and then purchase a plan. Nevertheless, small companies (49 or fewer workers) are not required to offer insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Small businesses seeking to purchase insurance through the federally-based SHOP exchanges, and take advantage of qualified tax credits, will need to seek coverage through an agent or broker. However, the decision does not affect states that have established their own state-based small business exchanges. Those 18 states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington. Additionally, some of the state-based exchanges are available for companies with 100 or fewer workers.
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