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How to Sign Up for
Small Business Health Insurance

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Fall is the season for pumpkin spice, holiday travel plans, and of course, open enrollment. In fact, public interest in open enrollment typically peaks twice a year: the first week of November and the middle of December. That just so happens to align with the start and end of the small business waiver period. But what is the waiver period? And how exactly does the sign-up process work for small group health insurance? Let's dive in.

What is the Waiver Period?

As you may already know, choosing the right health insurance plan for small business owners can seem daunting. There is good news, though. Figuring out when to sign up is fairly straightforward. Unlike individual health coverage, small businesses and small groups can sign up for health insurance year-round. However, one consideration is the waiver period. November 1 to December 15 is a time when two standard requirements are waived:

Enrolling your business in a new health insurance plan during this time makes more financial sense if the goal is to pay less than the standard contribution towards premiums. Outside of the waiver period, employers offering small group coverage are required to pay at least 25% of their employees' premiums. It should be noted that the plan's overall cost remains the same during the waiver period. The company's minimum contribution is the only difference.

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Qualifying for Small Group Health Insurance

You qualify for small business health insurance if you employ 2-50 full-time eligible workers. Keep in mind, these eligible employees must work a minimum of 30 hours per week. Additionally, in Illinois, at least 70% of eligible employees must enroll in a health plan for the business to offer coverage.

While businesses larger than 50 employees are mandated to supply health coverage, small businesses can choose not to offer it. However, it is increasingly an expectation for prospective employees. If a business hopes to attract top talent and retain workers, good health insurance is crucial. That’s why we’ve provided this guide to providing health insurance benefits to employees.

How to Sign Up

Request your free small business health insurance quote leaving site from the BlueCross and BlueShield of Illinois team to get started. All you need to provide is:

Once you have submitted your information, you will receive a customized quote containing the cost and details of the coverage of available plans in your area.

What is the Cost?

As we have discussed in a prior small business health insurance resource blog post, understanding the cost of small business health insurance plans is important. Premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage, on average, cost $22,000 in 2020. If an employer spends the minimum 25% towards those premiums for 50 employees, the cost adds up to $275,000.

During the waiver period, the minimum contribution made toward premiums is waived. This means a small business can opt to lower the overhead costs of health insurance. Keep in mind, those costs are then passed along to the employee, which may act to disincentivize enrollment.

It should also be noted that there are different metallic tiers that offer a range of costs for premiums. To learn more about small group plan options, visit our Plans Option page.

What if You’re Already Signed Up?

If you’re already enrolled in small group insurance coverage, you may review and change your plan each year on the anniversary of your policy.

Learn more about small business plans available in your area.

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