On Wednesday, September 3, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it would be testing the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP Exchanges), the health insurance exchange for small businesses, in five states, according to media reports. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that has oversight of HealthCare.gov and the online exchanges.
The soft launch of these SHOP Exchanges will roll out in late October to businesses that employ 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees in Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, and Ohio, as reported by the Washington Post. The employers will be able to set up an account and upload employee information, the Post noted, and in November it is expected that health care plan details and prices will be published on the SHOP exchange. States that did not set up their own exchanges and so defaulted to the federal sites will have access to SHOP exchanges as of November 15.
The SHOP exchanges had initially been scheduled to roll out in late 2013, but last December the White House decided to delay by one year online enrollment in the federally operated SHOP health insurance exchanges. Some state-run SHOP exchanges, however, did begin accepting small employer applications last year.
According to The Hill, it is hoped the soft launch will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to correct any problems encountered by small employers in the five states as they arise and before exchanges go live in all the remaining states.
To find out if your state has a state-run or federally run health insurance exchange, and for other key details about health care reform, go to ABA’s health care reform advocacy page or contact ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7562 or via e-mail.