Snapping your fingers won’t make health insurance magically appear. Like any art form, you need to absorb what’s out there, find the method that works for you, and then mix it all together to create your masterpiece. Chances are you’ve already completed the hard part by getting to this point. Fortunately, it only gets easier from here. Here’s how you can actually move forward with purchasing an amazing health plan.

Where to buy health coverage

You can clinch a health insurance plan in a few different places:

  1. The SHOP federal or state marketplace (if you live in a state that offers it)
  2. A service like Gusto
  3. Directly through your insurance carrier

Let’s take a look at these three options and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

An online benefits service

There are a smattering of services that can help you offer insurance to your team. With Gusto, you can get a customized plan recommendation, along with experienced advisors that can help guide you throughout the selection process. Gusto also integrates benefits with payroll and HR, so you can manage them all together.

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)

SHOP, an insurance marketplace for companies with 50 employees or fewer, is a resource created by the federal government to enable more companies to offer health benefits. It provides information and links to the federal and state marketplaces, and helps small businesses get connected with insurance providers.

If you shop for insurance the SHOP way, you’ll have to take the next step of actually providing the benefit to your employees. This can happen by finding a broker in the SHOP Marketplace or by choosing a health insurance provider on your own. Companies that collect insurance through SHOP, have fewer than 25 employees, pay average salaries below $50,000, and meet a few other qualifications may be able to qualify for the small business health care tax credit. It’s a big bonus for doing something you may already be doing anyway.

An insurance company

If you decide to purchase health coverage directly through an insurance company, you can simply call Anthem, Aetna, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Cigna, or another insurer. Keep in mind that you’ll want to set up a group health plan for your company unless your team is a team of one. Read more about the differences between group and individual health insurance here.

From SHOP to more personalized platforms, there are many roads you can take to get to your plan. Looking for loads of attention? An easy onboarding process? Something that you can set up quickly? Once you circle the aspects that matter to you, your plan destination will magically appear on the horizon.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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