Covered California Launches Website Site for Small Businesses

Covered California has launched a self-enrollment function of the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) online marketplace, starting this week.

With this new function, small business owners with between one and 50 eligible employees can enroll for coverage that will take effect Jan. 1.

Like the health insurance plans in Covered California’s individual market, Covered California’s SHOP plans offer a standardized set of benefits, a robust provider network, and broad options for competitively priced health insurance plans.

The new system enhancements permit online enrollment including online quoting, the ability to submit an online application at www.coveredca.com in real-time, and the ability for employers to initiate electronic open enrollment for their employees.

Small-businesses may owners qualify for a federal tax credit to help offset contributions toward employee premiums. Beginning in 2014, the only way for small-business owners to access the tax credits is to purchase insurance through Covered California’s SHOP.

Small businesses are eligible for a federal health care tax credit provided they meet the following criteria: have fewer than 25 full-time-equivalent employees for the tax year; pay employees an average of less than $50,000 per year and contribute at least 50 percent of their employees’ premium cost.

Employers with 10 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees with wages averaging $25,000 or less per year are eligible for the maximum amount of tax credits.

Small businesses are not required to buy insurance for their employees. SHOP is completely voluntary, and small businesses will not be penalized for non-participation.

In 2014, health insurance companies participating in SHOP will include: Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Health Plan and Western Health Advantage. Small businesses can enroll in a SHOP plan year round.

Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.

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