Small Businesses with 50 employees or less will be able to purchase health insurance through the new Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange in 2014; the number of employees will increase to 100 in 2016. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees can also have their workers purchase subsidized coverage through the individual exchange without paying a penalty (though they would lose the tax benefit of paying for insurance.)
The Exchange will negotiate rates with insurance companies, and provide a portal with easy-to-understand information about cost, quality and coverage options. A small business can continue to use its broker.
The Exchange will provide Navigators to explain the program and assist individuals and small employers with enrollment. A small business or self-employed individual may purchase directly from the Exchange through on-line electronic enrollment in addition to traditional paper-based enrollment avenues.