Happy National Small Business Week!

Starting your own business can be rewarding, stressful, and everything in between. Offering health coverage for your employees will help you attract and retain a talented staff. Our Small Business Health Options Program, SHOP, guides you to affordable health coverage and peace of mind for your new beginning.

What is the SHOP?

SHOP helps Maryland small businesses and nonprofit organizations provide health and dental insurance coverage for their employees. SHOP is the only place where small businesses may qualify for a health care tax credit from the IRS to help lower the cost of coverage for employees. The program is part of Maryland Health Connection, the state’s health insurance marketplace.

Benefits for your growing business:

  • Tax credits to help pay your share of employee premium costs if you qualify
  • Flexibility in contributing to your employees’ premiums
  • Simplicity in paying for your employees’ premiums
  • More coverage options for you and your employees

Who is eligible for SHOP?

To be eligible to participate in SHOP, you must:

  • Have a principal business address within Maryland
  • Have at least one employee on payroll (not including the business owner, owner’s spouse or family members)
  • Employ 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees (FTEs)
  • Offer SHOP coverage to all FTEs

What is the Health Care Tax Credit?

The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit covers up to half of health insurance premiums paid by eligible small businesses and up to 35 percent paid by eligible nonprofits or other tax-exempt organizations. The tax credit is available for two consecutive tax years.

Businesses and tax-exempt organizations must purchase group health insurance coverage through Maryland’s SHOP marketplace to be eligible.

Eligibility for the tax credit is determined by the IRS. Your business may be eligible if you:

  • Have fewer than 25 full-time-equivalent employees.
  • Pay an average annual salary of less than $50,000.
  • Contribute at least 50 percent toward employee-only health insurance premiums.

See if your business qualifies.

How do I enroll my business in SHOP?

You can sign up through Maryland’s SHOP marketplace any time of year. Follow these easy steps to enroll:

  1. Find out if your business is eligible
  2. Get a quote
  3. Pick a plan
  4. Enroll in health coverage
  5. Claim your tax credits

What are some other resources?

For more information, check out our SHOP fact sheet. To view plans and get started enrolling, please visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov.