Few Businesses Have Enrolled Through Calif. SHOP Exchange
Only a small percentage of small businesses in California have enrolled in coverage through the state's small business health insurance exchange, Voice of San Diego/Kaiser Health News reports (Gorman, Voice of San Diego/Kaiser Health News, 5/8).
Background on SHOP
In December 2013, Covered California formally launched the Small Business Health Options Program, its health insurance exchange website for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the SHOP portal allows small businesses to offer either a single plan to all of their workers or select a benefit level and allow employees to choose among several plans offered at that level.
In February, the online portal was taken offline to fix problems with the site. The updated portal will be launched in fall 2014. Applicants still are able to enroll by phone or through insurance brokers (California Healthline, 2/14).
Details of Low Enrollment
Only about 1,200 of California's 700,000 small businesses have enrolled in plans through the SHOP exchange. According to Voice of San Diego/KHN, Covered California's focus on the individual market shifted attention away from the small business program.
John Kabateck, California executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said, "The SHOP program has kind of taken a backseat," adding, "There wasn't an intent to ignore small businesses. That just didn’t become a priority."
In addition, some insurance brokers have been hesitant to recommend the exchange to their clients because of enrollment challenges -- such as technical glitches that caused incomplete applications and error messages -- and limited eligibility for tax credits, according to Voice of San Diego/KHN.
Covered California spokesperson Anne Gonzales said now that open enrollment in the individual market has closed, "SHOP is going to be a primary focus" (Voice of San Diego/Kaiser Health News, 5/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.