Finding the Right Small Business Health Insurance in Idaho: Plans, Tax Credits, and More

Offering health insurance is key for any small business in Idaho looking to attract and retain top talent. With quality coverage, employees feel valued and protected. For companies with 2-50 employees, Idaho’s health insurance marketplace provides affordable plan options plus tax savings.

This guide will walk through everything small businesses need to know about getting health insurance, including:

  • Idaho small business health plan overview
  • Using Idaho’s SHOP exchange
  • Available tax credits and deductions
  • How to choose the right carrier and plan
  • Ways to lower costs through HSAs and HRAs
  • Application process and requirements
  • Factors that impact premiums
  • FAQs about Idaho small group plans

Overview of Small Business Health Insurance in Idaho

Idaho companies with 2-50 full-time equivalent employees can purchase medical, dental, and vision plans through Your Health Idaho’s SHOP exchange. This gives access to competitively priced group coverage from leading insurers.

Key things to know:

  • All SHOP plans cover essential health benefits like preventive services, hospitalization, and prescriptions.

  • Pre-existing conditions are covered with no waiting period.

  • Plans range from bronze to platinum based on premiums versus out-of-pocket costs.

  • Small businesses can enroll any time of year, not just during open enrollment.

  • Workers pick from available plan options on a menu.

  • Employers control how much they contribute towards premiums.

Shopping on the SHOP exchange allows small businesses to forego broker fees and easily compare plans. Applying is simple and tax credits are available to lower costs.

Using Idaho’s SHOP Exchange to Buy Group Coverage

Here are the steps small businesses take to use Idaho’s SHOP exchange:

  1. Determine eligibility – Confirm you have 2-50 full-time equivalent employees or FTEs. This includes part-timers calculated by average hours worked.

  2. Apply – Complete the SHOP application to get approved. This can be done directly or through an agent or broker.

  3. Select plans – Once approved, pick from available medical, dental, and/or vision plans on the SHOP website. Evaluate carriers, networks, benefits, and premiums.

  4. Enroll – Workers enroll online in the plan you’ve chosen. You decide how much to contribute to premiums.

  5. Pay and renew – Pay combined monthly bill from SHOP exchange. Renew plans annually.

Using Idaho’s SHOP exchange makes it simple and affordable for small businesses to offer quality health benefits.

Tax Credits and Deductions for Idaho Small Business Health Insurance

Qualified small Idaho businesses can take advantage of two big tax perks:

SHOP Tax Credit

  • Worth up to 50% of premium contributions (35% for non-profits)
  • For businesses with <25 FTEs making ~$56,000 or less
  • Must buy SHOP plan to qualify

Premium Deduction

  • 100% tax deduction on premiums paid
  • Available even without SHOP plans
  • Boosts bottom line and lowers taxable income

These savings make providing health coverage more feasible for small businesses. Be sure to work with an accountant to maximize deductions and credits each year.

How to Choose the Right Health Insurance Carrier and Plan

When selecting a SHOP plan in Idaho, here are key factors to consider:

Carriers – Shop insurers like Blue Cross, PacificSource, Mountain Health CO-OP, and SelectHealth. Compare premiums, provider networks, prescription coverage, and customer service.

Plan Level – Bronze plans have low premiums but high out-of-pocket costs. Platinum plans have pricier premiums but lower deductibles. Pick based on your budget and expected healthcare needs.

Benefits – Look for copays on services you use often. Ensure your doctors are in-network. Seek plans with basic dental/vision benefits if not offering separate dental insurance.

Employee Needs – Get input from workers on desired benefits like mental health coverage or gym discounts. This boosts satisfaction.

Premium Split – Decide what percentage of premiums you will cover versus employees. Common options are 50/50, 60/40, or 70/30 splits.

Consulting with insurance brokers or agents can help narrow down appropriate carriers and plans. Make sure to reassess options each year at renewal.

Lowering Small Business Health Insurance Costs

There are several strategies Idaho small businesses can use to reduce overall health benefit spending:

  • Offer a high deductible health plan (HDHP) – This makes premiums more affordable but shifts some costs to workers. Pair with an HSA.

  • Utilize a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) – Set aside tax-free funds to help with employee medical expenses.

  • Cover more premium costs – Paying 70% versus 50% of premiums lowers employees’ burden.

  • Only cover employee premiums – This eliminates company costs for dependent/spouse premiums.

  • Offer voluntary dental/vision – Makes these optional benefits that employees fully pay for but still get group rates.

  • Incorporate wellness program – Good health lowers claims costs. Provide gym discounts, host health fairs, and more.

Talk to your SHOP agent or broker about the pros and cons of these cost-cutting options for your business.

Idaho SHOP Application Process and Requirements

To apply for small business health insurance through SHOP, employers will need to provide:

  • Company name and contact

  • Nature of business

  • Number of full-time equivalent employees

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)

  • Employee roster with birthdates

  • Coverage effective date

  • Payment information

No health questionnaires or medical history is required. The application takes 15-30 minutes to complete. Work directly with SHOP or through a broker. Plans can be utilized as soon as coverage effective date passes.

What Impacts Premiums for Small Business Health Plans?

Several factors determine the monthly premiums small businesses pay for group health coverage in Idaho. These include:

  • Plan type – Bronze plans have lower premiums than gold or platinum plans.

  • Benefits selected – More comprehensive coverage raises premiums.

  • Employee demographics – Age, gender, and location of workforce impacts risk pool.

  • Group size – Costs are higher for groups with under 10 employees.

  • Industry – Some industries have greater health risks.

Leveraging tax credits, paying a percentage of premiums, and other cost containment methods help reduce the burden of premiums on small businesses.

Frequently Asked Questions About Idaho Small Business Health Insurance

Can I buy small group health insurance anytime in Idaho?

Yes, SHOP plans can be purchased year-round, unlike individual plans that are limited to open enrollment periods. Small businesses have rolling enrollment.

How are health plan rates and premiums determined for small employers in Idaho?

Insurers calculate small group rates based on employee demographics, industry, location, number of enrollees, and benefits selected. Final premium is also impacted by what percentage the employer covers.

What employee count is used to determine group size for SHOP eligibility?

Full-time equivalent employees or FTEs determine group size, including part-time workers calculated by average hours worked. Companies with 2-50 FTEs qualify for SHOP.

What are the waiting periods for coverage of pre-existing conditions?

There are no waiting periods for pre-existing conditions in SHOP plans. Small businesses must cover all conditions once coverage goes into effect for employees.

Can small businesses in Idaho give employees a health insurance allowance or stipend?

Yes, businesses can provide workers with tax-free funds to pay for SHOP plan premiums or other medical expenses. This is done through an HRA.

Get Started with Health Insurance for Your Idaho Small Business

Offering health benefits through SHOP gives small companies access to affordable, comprehensive group health plans. Be sure to leverage tax credits and deductions to maximize savings. Reach out to a SHOP agent or broker to discuss the ideal health insurance strategy for your business. Prioritizing employee wellbeing through quality coverage will pay dividends.

Small Business Health Insurance


What is the average cost of health insurance in Idaho?

The average cost of health insurance in Idaho is $473 per month for a 40-year-old with a Silver plan. Your rate will vary based on your age, what plan tier you buy, the number of people you insure, the company you choose, whether or not you use tobacco and where you live in Idaho.

Are you legally required to have health insurance in Idaho?

Most Americans are required by law to have health insurance; however some people may qualify for an exemption. Individuals who qualify for an exemption do not have to purchase insurance coverage or pay the tax penalty.

What percentage of small businesses provide health insurance?

Small employers compete for talent in filling open positions and are aware that health insurance is an important benefit for many employees and job seekers.” Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Over half (56%) of small employers reported that they currently offer health insurance to employees and 44% percent do not.

Is Blue Cross of Idaho the same as Blue Cross Blue Shield?

Blue Cross of Idaho Health Service, Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit

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