Q: What is an Exchange?
A: The American Health Benefits Exchange is a primarily online marketplace for purchasing health insurance. It is run by the state or federal government (depending on which state you live in) with consumer assistance from other entities. Maryland is a state-based exchange. It offers plans for individuals and small employers (generally up to 50 employees).
Q: What is the SHOP Exchange?
A: The Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) is an exchange specifically for smaller employers. Small employers can offer employees enrollment in a Qualified Health Plan through a SHOP, and benefits can be offered though a “cafeteria” plan. The Exchange sets contribution methods. In 2014, SHOP is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.
Q: Must I offer health coverage to my employees?
A: Small employers (fewer than 50 full-time and/or full-time equivalent employees) are not required to offer coverage. They can get up to a 50% tax credit for providing coverage, should they choose to, if they have 25 FTE employees, the average income is less than $50,000 excluding certain classes (owners, partners, family of owners), and they contribute 50% of the premium toward the individual. Larger employers (50+ full-time and/or full-time equivalent employees) must offer affordable coverage with minimum value to full-time employees and dependents to avoid penalties. I95
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