The federal Small Business Health Options Program is an insurance exchange, created by Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace helps small businesses to provide health coverage to their employees. Therefore, it is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), in which it also includes non-profit organizations. 
According to the HealthCare.gov, the benefit of SHOP Marketplace includes, allowing owner to offer health and dental coverage to employees. Other than that, with flexibility, choice, and the online application and account management, SHOP aims to meets the needs of the business owner and its employees. 
In 2015 Employee Choice was introduced under of the PPACA’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace. While SHOP was available for 2014, this is the first year that small employers in 14 states can apply online. Before 2015 employers who provided health insurance to their employees typically worked with an insurance broker and one health insurance company. In 2015, they however can offer their employees a choice of insurance companies.
SHOP enrollment is available any time of the year — there is no «Open Enrollment» limitation. Employers who wish to contribute to the premium cost of their employees may qualify to receive a SHOP tax credit. The tax credit is worth up to 50% of employer’s contribution toward its employees’ premium costs. It will be up to 35% for tax-exempt employers.  Unfortunately, employees can’t join the plan after the initial enrollment period unless they are new hires and qualify Special Enrollment Period.
According to the HealthCare.gov, special Enrollment Period refers to a time outside of the open enrollment period, in which you and your family have a right to sign up for health coverage. In other words, you qualify for a special enrollment period 60 days following certain life events, including but limited to: change in family status such as marriage or birth of a child, loss of other health coverage.
However, SHOP Marketplace is not offered to self-employed individuals, with no employees.  They can however get health coverage through Health Insurance Marketplace for individuals.
As of March 13, 2015, the United States Department of Health and Human Services claims, evidence has shown that the SHOP marketplace is working in terms of affordability.  For taxpayers, they are benefiting as the health costs and spending have decreased last year.  With a historic slow down in the growth of health care costs, workers, business and taxpayers are able to generate savings under the introduction of SHOP.
Stay in network for savings, choice and quality
Health care is complex. And many people don’t know the best way to use their benefits. Now more than ever, it pays to be a smart shopper. You can share our useful online tools with your employees to help them save money and get the quality care they deserve.
Learn more about our small business health plans
Nationwide networks plus quality specialists
Of course, we all want to control health care costs. But no one – not you, not us, not your employees – wants to sacrifice quality care. And there’s no reason to.
We can help you to offer your employees access to a wide network of health care providers, so they have choices. And when your employees take advantage of our Aexcel® Performance Network,* they can choose specialists who meet our high standards in performance and expertise.
Discover why Aexcel matters
*The Aexcel network is only available in select locations. Aexcel is not available with HMO benefits plans. Aexcel designation is only a guide to choosing a physician. Members should confer with their existing physician before making a decision. Designations have the risk of error and should not be the sole basis for selecting a doctor.
Working with you to find ways to save
Consumer-directed health plans offer you a lot of advantages. They encourage your employees to make informed decisions and spend smart. This translates into lower costs for you. Plus, you can benefit from tax savings on salary reductions when your employees contribute to health funds associated with these plans.
Uncover savings strategies for your small business
Keep your employees on track
Strong health and wellness programs let your employees explore a healthy lifestyle. And this maximizes their productivity, while minimizing work absences.
Use Aetna Health ConnectionsSM to help your people get healthy, in mind and body.
Read about our health and wellness programs
You can show your employees that you want them to stay well and help them manage their health care costs. Our health and wellness resources can help them find doctors and sign up for wellness programs and discounts.
See more health and wellness resources