Small Business

Who is Eligible for Group Health Insurance?

Updated on December 09, 2019


Updated November 22, 2019

As a small business owner, you may be wondering whether you and your company are eligible for group health insurance. Typically, a business needs at least one qualified, full-time equivalent employee besides the business owner in order to be eligible for group health insurance.

Also, depending on your situation, other factors that help determine if a business can enroll in group coverage may include business type, employee status, and the level of workforce health plan participation.

Continue reading to learn about how eligibility works for group health insurance.

Group coverage basics

Group health insurance, also known as small group insurance or small business health insurance, is available to companies seeking to provide medical coverage to their employees under one policy.

By federal law, qualified small businesses are guaranteed group health insurance if they decide to buy it. Small businesses also cannot be denied coverage based on the health of their employees, if you’re enrolling in an ACA-compliant plan.

Generally, to be eligible for group health insurance, a business must fulfill two main requirements:

  1. The business must have at least one qualified full-time or full-time equivalent employee other than the business owner or a spouse.
  2. The company must be considered a legal business entity according to its state’s regulations.

According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a small business is defined as a business having between 1 to 50 employees. By having at least one qualified employee (who is neither yourself nor a spouse), your business would likely be eligible for group health insurance.

While the definition of a group or employee varies by state, it is important for you to know that a qualified full-time or full-time equivalent employee is usually considered to be someone who works at least 30 hours per week, according to the IRS.

Generally, if an employer decides to offer health insurance to any of their full-time employees, then the employer must offer health coverage to all of their full-time employees.

Oftentimes, there will be a requirement that a minimum percentage or number of employees participate in a group health insurance plan. Once a group is enrolled in a health plan, the employer must contribute to employee premiums as part of the plan’s cost-sharing arrangement. Generally, most states require employers to pay at least 50 percent of the monthly premiums for their employees.

Who is usually not eligible for group health insurance?

A sole proprietor with no employees usually would not be eligible for group health insurance. The self-employed owner of a sole proprietorship could still enroll in an individual health insurance plan.

If you have a family business and are looking for group health coverage, a spouse typically cannot count as the company’s only employee. However, if the business has other employees (who may also be members of your family), your spouse can enroll in the plan.

Qualified dependents can only enroll in a group health plan if an employee is already enrolled in the plan. While small business employers have the option to decide whether they will contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums for dependents, employees can still add dependents to their plan.

Finding affordable group health insurance

Although all health plans have different terms and conditions, these group coverage basics may help you in deciding if your small business is eligible for group health insurance.

If you have questions about whether your group is eligible for small business medical coverage, you can call eHealth’s licensed health insurance agents with no obligation or cost to you. Our representatives can help answer your questions and provide you with unbiased advice for choosing the right health plan for your business. You can also get free quotes on small business health insurance from us.

We are also committed to supporting you after have purchased your group health insurance plan by serving as the communication point between you and the insurance company.

With our free group health insurance quotes, eHealth empowers you to compare health plans from multiple health insurance companies so you can find the best option for your budget and coverage preferences. Compare group health insurance plans for free at today.

This article is for general information and may not be updated after publication. Consult your own tax, accounting, or legal advisor instead of relying on this article as tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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