On November 15, a new online marketplace will go live making it easier for businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees to obtain health insurance for their employees. That same day, open enrollment begins again for individuals seeking health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Join us for a question and answer about the rollout of the federal Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) online market place and the second open enrollment period under the ACA. We’ll be joined by Rhett Buttle, the Director of Private Sector Engagement, and Dean Mohs, the head of the Small Business Health Options Program, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

This will be a great opportunity for you to get answers about health insurance for your small business and to give your input about the Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment...

What: Conference call on the Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance for Small Businesses
Featuring: Rhett Buttle, Director of Private Sector Engagement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Dean Mohs, Director, Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) 
When: Monday, November 17 at 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. PT



If you have a question in advance of Wednesday, you can email it to info@businessfwd.org.

Can't make it? Sign up to receive our recap > 


Rhett ButtleDirector of Private Sector EngagementOffice of the Secretary at the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

In his role, Rhett is the main liaison between the department and the business community. In addition, Rhett is a member of the White House Business Council where he works to engage the business community on a variety of healthcare policy issues, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Before this role, Rhett was Vice President for External Affairs at Small Business Majority, a national business advocacy organization. During his tenure, Rhett led the effort to grow the organization in size and scope launching eight regional offices and expanding the organization's policy issue set. His efforts led to sustained engagement with business leaders across the country on a variety of public policy issues and a national campaign to educate the business community about the Affordable Care Act. Rhett has also served in the Office of the President at George Washington University, worked on presidential, state and local campaigns and in the office of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was part of the governor's legislative team working on healthcare reform, energy and education issues.

Rhett frequently engages with the media and has spoken on business issues at the Harvard Institute of Politics, the Aspen Institute, and the Center for American Progress. He also serves on the boards of several different organizations, including the Board of Directors at the University of San Diego. Rhett holds a bachelor's degree from the University of San Diego and a master's degree from The George Washington University. In addition, he is active in many volunteer & professional organizations including American Legion Boys State. Rhett was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV.

Dean Mohs, Director of the SHOP Marketplaces, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

As Director of SHOP, Dean is the primary business owner of the SHOP IT build and plays a key role in SHOP’s issuer engagement strategy and its policy development and analysis activities. Dean also oversees SHOP operations, business development, and agent/broker engagement activities.

Dean joined CCIIO after 5 years at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, where he was Vice President of Insurance Services and administered the Chamber’s health insurance program designed for small businesses in Brooklyn. While at the Chamber, Dean was also responsible for outreach and support to Brooklyn’s broker community, served as the Chamber’s primary liaison to issuers in the downstate market, and served as co-chair on the state-wide health insurance coalition for small businesses in New York.

Prior to his work at the Brooklyn Chamber, Dean was Director of Private Health Insurance Initiatives for the City of New York and a senior health care analyst at the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Originally from Minnesota, Dean holds Masters Degrees in Public Administration and Social Work from the University of Minnesota.

Posted In: Healthcare reform
| Alison Jones, Communications Associate

The Ex-Im Bank Just Gave $675 Million to Taxpayers

The Export-Import Bank reported last week that it returned $675 million to the Treasury Department. The news comes weeks after Congress decided to temporarily reauthorize the Bank’s charter until the end of June 2015, a move met with rare opposition for the Bank as some on Congress sought to close it.

The Bank operates on profits made from loans, fees, and other assistance and consistently returns money to the federal government. In fact, the bank operates at no cost to taxpayers.

The United States is one of 60 countries that support exports through an export-credit agency and ranks sixth in terms of total support among those nations, according to the National Association of Manufacturers and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Business leaders have voiced their concerns that uncertainty about closing the Ex-Im Bank “creates a real disadvantage for American companies.” One business leader said that Ex-Im financing allowed his small company in rural Texas to start exporting; business abroad now accounts for 50 percent of sales.

While the majority of exporters use private financing, the Ex-Im Bank’s job is to help the businesses that do not. "We're Plan B," the Ex-Im chair Fred Hochberg said in an interview with Marketplace, "We fill a gap when (the) private sector is unable, unwilling, or market conditions are just too risky for them."

The Bank supports many businesses through its direct loan, working capital, loan guarantees, and export insurance programs. Many of the Bank’s deals use private sector banks as a partner, not as a competitor.

Click here to learn more about the Ex-Im Bank

Posted In: Economic Trends

If you stepped into a Target or Walmart on the West Coast the morning of Thursday, October 16, you might have experienced something out of the ordinary. The two retailers (and Business Forward member companies) participated in The Great ShakeOut, an earthquake simulation that took place at 950,000 businesses nationwide (plus millions more schools and other other organizations worldwide) at 10:16 a.m. local time.

 The event, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the United States Geological Survey, the American Red Cross, and others, was an opportunity for businesses to prepare for and mitigate the effects of a potential disaster. The drill highlighted the different steps a school, organization, family, or business should take to prepare in case of a natural disaster. The shakeout.org website walks through potential hazards and preventive actions a business should take to avoid the damage to the business and its employees.

 Small businesses also need to consider the risks. While infrequent, earthquakes can threaten employees’ safety, damage structures, and affect the surrounding infrastructure, impacting companies’ ability to do businesses. A 6.0 magnitude earthquake centered in California’s Napa region in August 2014 caused an estimated $1 billion in damages and losses—so it pays to be prepared. FEMA also has many resources on its website for businesses owners, including what they should do before, during, and after the next earthquake.

 Click here to learn more about the Great ShakeOut: http://www.shakeout.org/

 And if you’d like to learn more about what to do to prepare for an earthquake, please watch the video below.

Posted In: Climate Change
| Erik Roos, Policy Analyst

SHOP 101: The Health Insurance Exchange for Small Businesses

On November 15, a new online exchange for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will go live on HealthCare.gov. The new portal (at www.healthcare.gov/small-businesses/) will allow small businesses owners to compare and enroll in health insurance plans online. Prior to the launch of the new portal, enrollment in SHOP exchanges was only available through an insurance broker.

SHOP may be beneficial for many small business owners that would like to provide health insurance. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the program.

What is SHOP?

SHOP, the Small Business Health Options Program, is a small-group health insurance exchange that provides a marketplace for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Plans are classified into four levels of coverage–Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum–with corresponding deductibles, copayments, and limits for out-of-pocket costs. Business owners may cover themselves with the same health insurance they offer employees. Through the Employee Choice Program, businesses are also able to offer multiple plans to their employees (see below).

Which states are using the federal SHOP exchange?

Thirty-one states have SHOP exchanges run by the federal government. Business owners in states that are running their own exchanges will be directed to the appropriate portal from Healthcare.gov.

What businesses qualify to enroll in the SHOP exchange?

Any business with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees may enroll in SHOP plans. That metric includes all employees working more than 30 hours a week (full-time) as well as the number of “equivalent full-time workers” represented by the total hours worked by part-time employees. Businesses with more than 50 FTE employees cannot use SHOP currently, but by January 1, 2016, all SHOP exchanges will be open to businesses with 100 or fewer FTE employees. 

This calculator can help you determine if your business qualifies.

Businesses with more than 50 FTEs may be required to provide insurance in 2015 or 2016, depending on their size. Healthcare.gov has more information.

Do I need to offer insurance to all of my employees to participate in SHOP?

Businesses must offer insurance to all employees that work 30 or more hours a week to participate in the SHOP exchange. In most states, to remain eligible for policies sold in SHOP, more than 70 percent of employees must then enroll in the business’s health insurance plan (this does not include employees who already have coverage from another employer or the federal government). The 70-percent requirement is waived during a special enrollment period from November 15 through December 15.

Can SHOP help small businesses spend less on health insurance?

By purchasing insurance through SHOP, businesses are joining a larger risk pool, which may decrease their health insurance costs. One study from the University of Chicago found that the health insurance offered on the SHOP marketplaces is approximately 7 percent cheaper on average than equivalent plans from outside the exchange. For the median health care plan, the difference could amount to $220 in annual savings per employee. In addition, tax credits (see below) are available for some smaller businesses, which may further reduce the cost. 

Do businesses have to enroll in November?

No, unlike the individual exchange, small businesses can enroll in a plan at any time. Coverage for businesses that enroll by the 15th of any month will begin the following month. Businesses can currently enroll through an insurance broker with a paper application. Once the website is launched, applications must be made online.

Businesses that want to avoid the 70 percent employee take-up requirement must enroll in the SHOP exchanges during the November 15 to December 15 enrollment period.

Can my business continue to use brokers to buy coverage after the new portal is launched?

Yes. Businesses may use a broker to help them purchase insurance on the exchange, as long as the broker has registered with the SHOP marketplace. Brokers may be able to offer additional guidance about what insurance would best fit each business’s needs. ACA Navigators call also help small businesses owners and their employees with SHOP enrollment. Both brokers and Navigators are free for your business to use.

What states are participating in the Employee Choice Program?

The employee choice program allows employers to offer multiple health insurance plans, from which employees may choose. After the business owner registers and sets their contribution, employees can use the SHOP portal to select among different health insurance plans and enroll in their preferred choice. In 2015, two-thirds of the states will offer employee choice; the rest will adopt the program in 2016.

Do businesses have to use the SHOP exchange to qualify for small business tax credits?

Yes. Businesses with 25 FTE employees or fewer with average wages less than $50,000 that pay over half the cost of their employee’s premiums may qualify for tax credits. The tax credits can be worth up to 50 percent of the business’s share of health insurance premiums. Smaller firms with lower wages receive greater benefits. To get the tax credit, businesses must purchase health insurance through the exchange. The tax credit is non-refundable (except for non-profits) but can be applied to the prior year’s income taxes or any income taxes in the following 20 years.

You can calculate your business’s expected tax credit using this tool.

Can a business use SHOP if it has employees in different states?

Yes, employees are located in different states can still be part of the SHOP program. The business owner should enroll in the SHOP program in the company’s home state. Out-of-state employees are treated the same as in-state employees.

What if I hire additional workers after I purchase SHOP insurance and exceed the company size threshold?

Once a business is enrolled in SHOP, it does not lose eligibility if it hires additional workers later in the year, even if it exceeds the 50 FTE threshold

Do businesses that are eligible for SHOP have to provide health insurance?

Businesses with 50 employees or fewer are not required to purchase health insurance, but they have the option to do so through SHOP. About 96 percent of businesses in the U.S. are not required to provide insurance.

Posted In: Healthcare reform
| Shumway Marshall, Digital Director

Sign up: Conference call on Healthcare for Small Businesses


In just over a month, HealthCare.gov will get a major upgrade. On November 15, a new online marketplace will go live making it easier for businesses with less than 50 full-time employees to obtain health insurance for their employees.

To learn about how the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) online marketplace can help your business and employees, please join us for a conference call with Rhett Buttle, the Director of Private Sector Engagement at the Department of Health and Human Services. Buttle will also discuss the next steps in the roll out of the Affordable Care Act and answer your questions about SHOP.

What: Conference call on Healthcare for Small Business
Featuring: Rhett Buttle, Director of Private Sector Engagement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
When: Wednesday, October 15 at 11:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. PT



If you have a question in advance of Wednesday, you can email it to info@businessfwd.org.

Can't make it? Sign up to receive our recap >

Posted In: Healthcare reform