Most States With Own Exchanges To Offer ‘Employee Choice’
Most of the 17 states that have chosen to operate their own health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act plan to offer small business workers the "employee choice" coverage option in 2014, which the Obama administration has delayed in the exchanges that the federal government will operate, according to a report released by the Commonwealth Fund, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports (Appleby, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 7/11).
Last month, the administration confirmed that it will delay for one year an aspect of the Small Business Health Options Program because it is too complex for insurers to implement by 2014.
Under the ACA, SHOP 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.
The delay applies only to the portion of SHOP in which employees can select from multiple plans. SHOP still will be available for small businesses to select a single plan for all of their workers as scheduled in 2014.
The delay applies to businesses operating in the 33 states with federal or partnership health insurance exchanges, although the 17 states running their own insurance marketplace could enact a similar delay, the administration said (California Healthline, 6/3).
According to the Commonwealth Fund report -- prepared by researchers from Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute -- Washington D.C. and 15 of the 17 states that will run their own exchanges plan to offer the "employee choice" aspect of the SHOP provision as a way to make small business marketplaces more attractive to employers and workers.
Idaho has opted out of employee-choice aspect because it is using the federal exchange's information technology program, while New Mexico is still considering its options.
Seven of the 15 states -- Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont -- will allow workers to choose their coverage plan from a selection of insurers and coverage levels. Most of the remaining eight states plan to let workers select only among plans at a specific level of coverage selected by employers.
However, two of the 15 states have slowed their efforts on the employee-choice aspect, the researchers reported. Washington state initially will offer the employee-choice aspect in only one region of the state because fewer-than-expected insurers applied to participate in its exchanges.
Meanwhile, Maryland will delay the launch of the employee-choice market until January 1, 2014, three months after its exchange opens for general enrollment, and coverage in the state's employee-choice market will not launch until March 1 ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 7/11).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.