Small-Business Health Care Program Delayed

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act creates as part of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges. Through these exchanges small businesses up to 100 employees are supposed to be able to purchase qualified coverage from a government run purchasing exchange.

However, the federal government announced the SHOP program will be delayed until 2015. Small-business employees will still be able to get insurance, but the states have the option to limit that to one choice, rather than a variety of plans.

Federal officials indicated that the delay is due to the inability of insurance carriers to implement in a timely fashion. Prior comments going back over the last two years suggest that the insurance carriers have in fact been awaiting guidance from regulators and had proactively informed regulators of potential implementation delays if guidance was not forthcoming. Regardless of why offerings under the SHOP program will be limited at best.

The Chamber of Commerce issued a statement indicating that as a result of the delay, small-business insurance through the health exchange “will be of little or no value to employers, or by extension, their employees.”

There are numerous technical issues that will need to be resolved prior to a legitimate SHOP offering in the marketplace. First and foremost regulators must address key issue related to the insurance market. This in turn will be followed by insurers creating plans and infrastructure to support the government program. Assuming these issues are addressed in a timely fashion the much ballyhooed SHOP program should be available for small businesses for the 2015 calendar year.

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About Christopher Johnson

Christopher manages the consulting services department of J.W.Terrill providing regulatory, analytical, technical and wellness support to clients.

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