There are many options for small businesses that wish to offer health insurance to their employees. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is one such place. Small business owners can go to the SHOP marketplace to research insurance plans, compare rates, and purchase coverage.

SHOP Plan Categories

There are four categories under SHOP broken down by the percentage of the coverage the insurer pays, versus what the employer pays.

  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

SHOP Plan Types

Under each category of coverage, there are several SHOP plan types to choose from, similar to healthcare options found elsewhere.

  • Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) – often considered a hybrid option where a primary care physician is not required, but the participant can only see doctors within the network.
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) – care is usually coordinated by a primary care physician and participants can only visit doctors within the HMO network.
  • Point of Service (POS) – participants pay less for services provided in-network and a referral from the primary physician is needed before a visit to a specialist.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) – participants can see any physician they wish but pay less for services within the network. A referral is not required to see a doctor.

The SHOP marketplace provides a central place for a small business owner to make an informed decision about the healthcare options available for them and their employees.