Benefits of Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)
If small businesses, including small dental clinics, have at most 50 employees, they can search for health and/or dental insurance policies through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), which is “part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)” (Merhar 2016; “Overview of SHOP: Health insurance for small businesses”; Urban 2013). Employers could even allow their employees to select their policies, “[depending] on the state” (“Overview of SHOP: Health insurance for small businesses”; Urban 2013). SHOP was created “to foster a greater choice of health plans for [small businesses’] workers” and “to correct difficulties that many such companies had encountered with insurers because their size made it difficult to spread out the risk if an individual worker had high medical costs. As a result, small companies were much less likely to offer a choice of health plans or any coverage at all” (Goldstein 2017). SHOP could help employees and employers in a variety of ways.
Depending on their employers, employees could pick their own policies from SHOP (Hecht 2016). Employers could allow their employees to “choose any plan that meets SHOP benefit plan requirements” or choose policies “within [a metallic] level,” such as “Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum,” which “indicates their prices (not their quality)” (Urban 2013; Hecht 2016). Their dependents can choose whether to “enroll in health only, dental only, or both health and dental coverage” (“Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)”).
SHOP not only gives employers some control over their policies, but also offers tax credit to some of them. They can decide the type(s) of policies their employees could have, “[choose] how much [they] pay toward [their] employees’ premiums, and whether to offer coverage to their dependents,” and “[decide] how long new employees must wait before enrolling” (“Overview of SHOP: Health insurance for small businesses”). Some employers could meet several requirements to get the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, which “could be worth up to 50% of the costs you pay for your employees’ premiums (35% for non-profit employers)” (“The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit”). For instance, assuming that they have at most 25 employees, they must provide insurance “to all of [their] full-time employees” (“The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit”). They can still get the tax credit regardless of whether they cover “dependents or employees working fewer than 30 hours per week…” (“The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit”). Also, employers must “pay at least 50% of [their] full-time employees’ premium costs” and their salary of “about $50,000 per year or less” (“The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit”). Generally, according to “The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit” page on HealthCare.gov, “[the] smaller the business, the bigger the credit.”
SHOP insurance could benefit small dental practices. Employees could choose from a variety of policies. Employers could also choose their policies and determine other elements, such as their portion for the premiums. They could even receive tax credit. SHOP is one of the many ways through which employers could find policies for their employees.