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W3LL is a champion of the innovative approach of Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs) but the bigger focus is helping small businesses find health benefits that work for them. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created health insurance options that changed how individuals and employers once looked at healthcare. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) was one of those options.

Small business need options that provide robust, cost conscious coverage, that is also flexible and personalized enough for the many classes of employees they may have. ICHRA plans offer all that and then some. Employees have the power to pick coverage of their choice making ICHRA even more appealing. However, the nuances of introducing an ICHRA may not make it a right fit for the moment.

Meet Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) plans. Tailored specifically to small business, this serves as a great alternative.

What is the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)?

SHOP was developed specifically for small business, categorized as having 1-50 employees. It’s a specific exchange, created through the ACA, that provides medical and/or dental plan options. Typically geared toward larger employers, group health insurance plans are much costlier. SHOP gives employers a place to find a plan that works best for their employees and their business.

Bonus – some businesses may be eligible for tax credits, making the coverage even more affordable.

Benefits of SHOP

SHOP is an appealing option for those seeking to provide comprehensive health benefits while managing financial expenses. It gives employers the ability to provide access to various health insurance plans for their employees. Here’s are 4 reasons that make SHOP a beneficial option:

  1. Your employees get the flexibility and choice that they don’t typically get with traditional group health insurance plans
  2. As an employer, you have the option to choose how much you want to contribute towards employees’ premiums
  3. It’s easy – get all your information and enroll in one simple place. Through or an agent or broker, SHOP is meant to be simple!
  4. You may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, saving you and your employees even more.

Qualifying for SHOP

Before considering is SHOP plans are for your business, there are requirements you must meet first. This includes minimum employee participation rate, business size, and employee types. Here are the requirements to be eligible for a SHOP plan:

  1. Must have between 1 – 50 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs)
  2. Offer coverage too all full-time employees – those working 30+ hours a week
  3. 70% of employees must be enrolled in the plan
  4. Have a physical office within the state you are purchasing your plan

How do you purchase a SHOP plan?

It’s simple to get started once you meet all the requirement and are ready to get started with SHOP. You can work with your existing insurance company or a SHOP-registered health insurance agent or broker. Need help looking for a registered agent or broker? Reach out and we can help guide you to someone who can help.


While ICHRAs let employees select plans that meet their needs, SHOP plans mimic the traditional employer-selected insurance model. Employers will still have the flexibility and cost savings from an ICHRA. The biggest differentiator is that SHOP provides a set of plan options for employees to choose from. With an ICHRA, employees have to find their own plan.

SHOP plans not only contribute to employee satisfaction but can also be cost-effective, thanks to available tax credits for eligible small businesses. These credits can cover up to 50% of employer contributions towards premiums.


Backed by Softheon’s expertise with SHOP exchanges and Small Group Coverage, we’re adept at navigating the complexities of health insurance. W3LL is committed to making healthcare more affordable and plentiful. And this starts with informing and educating small and large businesses, individuals, and brokers/agents on all their options.

As we encourage the exploration of ICHRA, we remain committed to ensuring all have the information they need to make informed health benefit decisions. Our team of experts can give you more information and help guide you to the option that works best for you. Reach out and let us help get you the best for the employees that make your business a success everyday.