Top 5 Questions about SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program)

describe the imageBeginning in 2014, small employers may choose to provide health coverage to their employees through a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace. Here are the top 5 questions we hear about SHOP:

How will a SHOP Marketplace operate?

For 2014, states with a federally facilitated Marketplace will have the employer choose one plan for all of its employees. Most state-run SHOP Marketplaces will allow employee choice of a plan at a metal level chosen by the employer beginning in 2014. Many of the federally-run Marketplaces will  add this option in 2015, although a state may delay employee choice to 2016 if the insurance commissioner believes a delay would be in the best interest of consumers.

Are there requirements to participate in a SHOP Marketplace?

Yes. The employer must have employed an average of one to 50+ employees during the prior calendar or plan year. Part-time employees will generally count as full-time equivalent employees, using the same method as is used for determining whether the employer is large enough for employer-shared responsibilities to apply.

The small employer must offer SHOP coverage to all eligible full-time employees. There is no requirement under PPACA that employer contributions be made, but insurers may require contributions at a certain level.  Employers that cannot meet minimum participation requirements may be limited to enrolling during an open enrollment period.

I have employees working in multiple states. How will that work?

Generally, the small employer will enroll all employees in the SHOP Marketplace in which its principal worksite is located. However, the employer may enroll employees in the SHOP of any state in which it has an office.

Is there annual re-enrollment in the SHOP Marketplace?

Yes. Employers will participate in the SHOP Marketplace for a 12-month plan year (which does not need to be a calendar year). If employees are allowed to choose their plan, they will be able to change their plan choice as part of the employer’s re-enrollment in the SHOP Marketplace.

Can new employees enroll midyear? What if an employee has a life event?

Newly eligible employees may enroll midyear, and their coverage will begin on the date they become eligible. An employee who has a special enrollment event may enroll or change plans within 30 days after the event.


+ The state may choose to set the maximum at 50 employees for 2014 and 2015 and all states have chosen to do this for 2014. The threshold will increase to 100 in 2016. 


For further information about the health care reform requirements for your business, download UBA’s complimentary guide, “PPACA Compliance and Decision Guide for Small and Large Employers” from the PPACA Resource Center at

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“I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” — Sally Field, Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Actress in … Continued

Self-Funded Health Plans Must Obtain a Health Plan Identifier Number

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Client Spotlight – American Metalcraft

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Workplace Happiness

Workplace Happiness

Workplace Happiness

At the recent SXSW (South by Southwest) entertainment and technology conference, one of the seminars that seemed out of place among the usual presentations of innovative ideas, thought leadership, and ways to get noticed by venture capitalists was one titled, “Make Yourself the Happiest Person on Earth.”

How Long Commutes Impact Workplace Productivity

trafficWhat do all employees have in common? They all have a burning dislike for their morning commute! Let’s face it, it’s not the actual commute that most people dislike, it’s the hassle of dealing with traffic, long lines, and rude people that make the trip so despised.

It doesn’t matter how an employee gets to work — whether it’s by car, train, plane, boat, or just walking, there’s always one or more aspects of a long commute that a person would like to change. How an employee starts the day is an important indicator of his or her attitude for the rest of that day.

You know the ad that proclaims 15 minutes could save you 15% by switching to some insurance? Well, I cut my commute time in half by switching my car’s horn from a beep to sounding like a machine gun. At least I wish I did. My former commute to work was 70 miles each way. While the traffic was always light, that commute still extracted a fair amount of energy from me due to the time spent on the road. Luckily for me, my supervisor allowed me to work from home two days a week.

Managers need to determine what an employee needs to be the most productive while at work. Some things are within their control such as having the best equipment, providing the most up-to-date training, or even a supplying a kick-start of coffee or a snack. However, there are a plethora of items outside their control that can disrupt productivity such as the need for eight hours of sleep, family issues, or even a particularly grueling commute. According to a recent Gallup poll, fourteen percent of all American workers report they spend at least 45 minutes getting to work. Gallup found that commutes of this length are linked to poorer overall wellbeing, daily mood, and health.

If a manager doesn’t have to endure the horrors of a long and demanding commute, it might be difficult for that person to understand the impact it has on an employee’s productivity and overall morale. Considering that the average worker spends five weeks a year commuting, it’s easy to see how someone might not feel motivated when he or she reaches the workplace.

Fortunately, restoring motivation in an employee with a lengthy commuting is relatively easy. That being said, it takes a manager who is willing to make compromises, have a fair amount of trust in his or her employees, and the necessary equipment — or the ability to lay the groundwork — to let them telecommute if the situation arises.

“Commuting can be a major challenge for employees,” says Jason Reeves, MBA, Director of Survey at United Benefit Advisors. “Employers can ease this burden by allowing telecommuting and flexible work schedules to take the burden off of long commutes during the rush hour.”

There is no doubt that a manager assumes a small amount of risk when letting an employee work from home, but if that manager is confident in the employee’s work ethic, then there should not be a reason to worry. In fact, most employees who telecommute report that they actually work harder from home than they do in the office because they felt like they had to “prove themselves” to their colleagues and show that they were pulling their weight.

When telecommuting is not an option, there are plenty of small changes in the workplace that can be made to help ease the pressure on workers who commute long distances:

  • Allow commuting employees to work one day a week from home. The break from the commute will ease their stress and show them that you understand their situation.
  • If employees primarily take public transportation as a way to get to work, then count one hour toward their time in the office as long as they use a laptop or other device to do job-related functions.
  • Have flexible office hours so that employees can arrive, work an appropriate amount of time, then leave so as to avoid both morning and evening rush hours.
  • Offer support (such as moving expenses, paid time off, etc.) to workers who are willing to relocate closer to the office.

Finally, be sympathetic. An employee may not have a choice when it comes to their commute and a little understanding can go a long way in making that person feel as though someone understands their morning struggle.

Wondering what other perks employees appreciate most? Download a copy of UBA’s 2013 Ancillary Survey executive summary to see which voluntary benefits employers use most to boost employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention.

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