Companies that want to provide health insurance options to their employees will have a new one in Washington state next year.

Chris Free, co-owner of Rapport Benefits Group in Tacoma and immediate past president of the state Association of Health Underwriters, explains the new plan in next week’s Business Examiner edition.

“If you have less than 50 employees, there’s going to be a new marketplace opening” within the state’s HealthPlanFinder Exchange,” Free said. And this means small groups will be in line to qualify for the subsidies incorporated into the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

“This is basically just duplicating what’s already existed in the (individual plan) marketplace, but with the added component of channeling tax subsidies” to the small employers,” he added.

The Small Business Health Options (SHOP) program will have only one statewide carrier, but Moda has contracted to use the First Choice network of providers, so there should be good access to health care providers.

To qualify for business tax subsidies, the employer must have fewer than 25 employees and their average income must be less than $50,000, with the company paying at least half the insurance cost.

Free said the rates to be charged by this Oregon-based insurance provider have not yet been publicized, so it isn’t known how competitively priced the coverage will be. On the other hand, he says there might be rather large premium increases in the offing for 2015 renewals all around.

Read more detail in next week’s Business Examiner edition, which is available right now to digital subscribers who use their login.