Small Business

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help small businesses by lowering premium cost growth and increasing access to quality, affordable health insurance. If you are small employer, the ACA information on this page may apply to you.

Please note that for 2015 coverage, the online application will be available through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Small employers can still obtain insurance by using an agent, broker or insurance company that offers plans through SHOP. If you meet certain requirements, you may be eligible to claim a tax credit in 2014 or 2015, but only if you enroll through SHOP. Information and plan comparisons are still available on the SHOP website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I qualify for small business health care tax credits?

You may qualify for employer health care tax credits if you have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees making an average of about $50,000 a year or less. To qualify for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, you must pay at least 50% of your full-time employees’ premium costs. You don’t need to offer coverage to your part-time employees or to dependents. Starting in 2014, the tax credit is worth up to 50% of your contribution toward employees’ premium costs (up to 35% for tax-exempt employers). The credit is available only if you get coverage through the SHOP Marketplace.

What is the Small Business Health Options Program?

The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP Marketplace, is a section of the new health insurance shopping website called the Health Insurance Market Place. The SHOP Marketplace is specifically built for small business owners and nonprofit organizations to easily find and provide health insurance for employees.

On the SHOP Marketplace, small business owners can compare plans side-by-side and buy health insurance for their employees.

If you are a small business owner or leader of a nonprofit organization, you may also qualify for a federal tax credit when you buy insurance through the SHOP Marketplace. This is called the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. It can help you pay up to half of your employees' premiums, which is the amount that insurance costs each month.

Do I have options if I am self-employed?

If you are self-employed - meaning you run a business with no employees - you can use the Health Insurance Marketplace to buy insurance as an individual instead of going through the SHOP Marketplace. Depending on your income, you may also qualify for financial help to make insurance more affordable.

Where can I view the options for health insurance plans for my employees?

You can get to the SHOP Marketplace directly from, where you can view your options and see whether you are eligible for a federal tax credit to help cover premium costs, or the amount that insurance costs each month.

Can I use my current broker?

Contact your broker to find out if they are registered with the Marketplace. If your broker is registered, they are qualified to help you use the website to find the best health insurance option for your business and apply for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

Do all my employees have to accept health insurance if I offer it?

No, only 70 percent of your full-time employees have to take the health insurance you offer in order to use the SHOP Marketplace. This is called a Minimum Participation Requirement.

  • Employees with coverage through another employer plan, Medicare, Medicaid, the military, or veterans' programs are not included in the calculation.
  • Employees with individual non-group private coverage are included in the calculation.

Am I required to provide health insurance for my employees' families?

If you are a small business with fewer than 50 full-time employees, you are not required to provide health insurance for your employees or their families.

If you provide coverage to your employees, but not their families, your employees' families can still purchase insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

How will I contribute to my employees' and their dependents' premiums?

For SHOP Marketplaces where employers may offer employees a choice of plans, you'll first select a plan category and select a plan within that category to serve as a reference plan. For SHOP Marketplaces that don't have this option available in 2014, the plan that you select will be your reference plan.

You'll then define a percentage that you would like to contribute toward premiums for employee-only coverage. If you decide to offer dependent coverage, you'll also define a percentage that you'll contribute towards those premiums. These contribution percentages will be applied toward your reference plan and this amount will be used for the plan that your employees select.

If all of my employees pay the same premium, how is that calculated?

Depending on state law, you can decide to have employees pay their premiums based on age, or have everyone pay the same premium regardless of age. Premiums could also be affected by the tobacco surcharge. Your premium contribution will be the same either way.

When employees pay the same premium amount regardless of age, the Marketplace calculates the average employee premium based on the age range of all employees signing up for coverage.

How is my employee participation rate calculated in the SHOP Marketplace?

Participation rates in the SHOP Marketplace are calculated by dividing the number of employees enrolling by the number of employees eligible for coverage (those employees listed on your employee roster). Dependents of your employees are not included in this calculation. Employees who will be covered through another person's job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service programs, and TRICARE are not included in this calculation. Employees with individual non-group private coverage (including coverage through the individual Marketplace) are included in the calculation.

Can I make my premium payment through the SHOP Marketplace?

 For plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, you’ll make your premium payments through the SHOP Marketplace. If your employees enroll in more than one plan, your premium payments will be combined for participating insurance companies.

How can I get help buying health insurance through the SHOP Marketplace?

Free guidance is available to help you compare, find and buy the right plan for your business.

Points of Contact For:

Employers or those assisting an employer should contact the Health Insurance Marketplace Small Employer Contact Center.

General Inquiries: 1-800-706-7893
TTY: 1-800-706-7915
Hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 7 PM EST

Employees and those assisting employees should contact the Health Insurance Marketplace Call Center.

General Inquiries: 1-800-318-2596
TTY: 1-855-889-4325
Hours of operation: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Download the Small Business Brochure

Local Small Business Navigators:

Marsha Smith
Enroll DuPage Navigator
DuPage County Health Department
Phone: (224)-315-7547

Nina Montero
Enroll DuPage Navigator
DuPage County Health Department
Phone: (224) 315-1272

Robin Lavender

Manager, Enroll DuPage

DuPage County Health Department

Phone:  (224)-315-5377


Get Covered Illinois the Official Health Marketplace. Get Started. Ready to enroll? Click on the button above to get started today!


Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m & Saturday, 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.