Online Enrollment in Federal SHOP Exchanges Available in 2015Posted on: November 6, 2014Categories: HR & Compliance
Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) established the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange—an online competitive marketplace that small employers can use to provide health insurance options for their employees.
On Oct. 8, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that online enrollment will be available in the SHOP Exchanges operated by HHS (federally-facilitated SHOPs, or FF-SHOPs) beginning Nov. 15, 2014. As a result, for the 2015 plan year, eligible employers can complete an application, choose coverage and enroll themselves, or they can work with an agent or broker.
This is the first time that online enrollment will be available in the FF-SHOPs, due to a delay announced in Nov. 2014. Prior to Nov. 15, 2014, employers have been required to use “direct enrollment” with an agent, broker or insurer to enroll their employees in FF-SHOP coverage for 2014. States that operate their own SHOP Exchanges were still permitted to offer online enrollment.
Overview of SHOP Enrollment
Small employers with up to 50 employees are eligible to participate in the SHOP Exchanges. In 2016, the maximum number of employees will increase to 100. Beginning in 2017, states may allow businesses with more than 100 employees to participate. CMS provided a SHOP Full-time Equivalent Employee Calculator to help employers determine if they are eligible for SHOP coverage based on their employee count.
Unlike the individual Exchange enrollment process, small employers can enroll through the SHOP on a monthly basis throughout the year. Therefore, some states are phasing in SHOP application and enrollment periods. Availability of Online Enrollment
Once online enrollment in the FF-SHOPs becomes available on Nov. 15, 2014, eligible employers will be able to choose coverage, complete an application and enroll online through HealthCare.gov. Employers may also work with an agent or broker to complete the enrollment process.