Find out if your business may participate.

Businesses with 50 or fewer employees may participate in the NY Small Business Health Exchange (SHOP). Your primary place of business must be in New York State, and you must cover all eligible employees. In 2016, the SHOP exchange will expand to include businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

Learn what plans you have to choose from.

Statewide, 10 insurance companies are offering small group plans through the NY State of Health Exchange. While not all insurers are offering policies in all regions of New York, all regions have at least nine plans to choose from, some regions have many more. All plans sold on the exchange offer the 10 Essential Health Benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Know what standardized region you fall into.

Health Plan costs vary by region. For purposes of the NY exchange, the state is divided into eight standardized rating regions. The monthly cost of individual plans range from $230 up to $760.

Find out if you qualify for tax credits.

Some business owners may qualify for tax credits to offset premium costs. Business owners with fewer than 25 full-time employees who are paid, on average, annual incomes less than $50,000, may be eligible for a tax credit equal to 50 percent of their contribution to employees’ premiums. To be eligible for this credit, employers must pay at least half their employees’ premiums and purchase insurance through the NY State of Health exchange.

Register with NY State of Health to enroll in plans on the exchange.

To participate in the New York Small Business Health Exchange, you must create an account at NY State of Health. You will need to provide information about your business, including your Employer Identification Number. You will also need your employees’ dates of birth, social security numbers and email addresses.

Consider your health plan options. 

New York employers have several options for selecting health plans for their employees. Employers may select one plan for all their employees, select several plans that their employees may choose from, or allow their employees to select from all the plans offered in the region. Employers may select the level of coverage they wish to provide and the amount they wish to contribute towards their employees premiums.

Small group plans are available with four levels of coverage.

Policies offered through the NY State of Health exchange have tiered “metal levels” of coverage:

  • Bronze plans – 60 percent of medical costs are covered
  • Silver plans – 70 percent of medical costs are covered
  • Gold plans – 80 percent of medical costs are covered
  • Platinum plans – 90 percent of medical costs are covered

All plans, as required by the ACA, cover preventative services with no co-pays or deductibles. Once you have selected plans for your employees, NY State of Health will invite your employees to login and select a plan. Even if you select plans from different insurers, your total contributions to employees’ premiums will be combined in one monthly bill.

You may purchase insurance for your employees through a broker.

Insurance brokers and certified Navigators are available to help you with the selection and enrollment process. Use the NY State of Health search function to find a broker. You may also get help by calling the NY State of Health exchange helpline at (855)355-5777. The helpline is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 8p.m and Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Gillian Burdett is a freelance writer in New York. Her writing focuses on education, public policy and family issues. Her work can be found here.

Gillian Burdett is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on

Watch & Listen LIVE