Health insurance has long been a stumbling block for small business owners and their employees.
Perhaps with the advent of association health plans and SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) health insurance plans, this issue will trip up fewer makers and others on their way to making a living doing what they love.
Here are a few things to consider as enrollment periods for 2019 draw to a close.
Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act enrollment period ends on Dec. 15. There are three plans to choose from in 2019. All plans cover essential health benefits, pre-existing conditions, and preventive services. For more information, visit www.HealthCare.gov, the federal government website, or call 1-800-318-2596. Local enrollment assistance is available; call 2-1-1 for any questions about enrollment assistance times and locations.
Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) health insurance plans are quality, affordable health and dental insurance for small businesses and their employees. Small businesses with 1–50 employees are generally eligible. SHOP plans are offered by private insurance companies and cover essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions. To enroll in SHOP, you’ll either work with a SHOP-registered insurance agent or broker or handle everything yourself through your insurance company. To find a local broker, click here.
Private insurance is also available from some Knoxville-area insurance companies, but they are not bound by the restrictions of the ACA and may not cover pre-existing conditions.
Association Health Plan
In June, the Department of Labor approved an association health plan initiative which can be marketed across state lines to businesses in a common industry — auto repair shops, for example — or sold to self-employed people like makers. Chambers of Commerce across the country – including Knoxville – are exploring offering AHPs to their small business members.
The Maker City is exploring whether an association health plan would benefit Knoxville-area makers. In order to assess the need, we’re asking makers to complete a brief insurance survey. If we receive enough feedback, we will report back on what we learned and whether there’s a need to proceed.