Health Health Care Reform Another Change in ImplementationCare Reform Another Change in Implementation

April 04, 2013

Small businesses may not have a complete insurance market set up specifically for them when the state and federal health exchanges begin in January 2014.

Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will be delayed until 2015. Small business employees will still be able to get insurance, but states have the option to limit that to one choice, rather than a variety of plans, for the first year.

"For transitional purposes we have proposed that in 2014, a SHOP may elect to have businesses choose one plan to offer employees, and in 2015 employees will be able to choose from the full range of plans in the marketplace," said an HHS spokesperson.

John Arensmeyer, CEO of the Small Business Majority, an non-profit advocacy group, said insurers have indicated they did not have enough time to come up with insurance plans that met the federal standards.

"We're disappointed they chose to delay these particular features," he said. "I think there's a reason behind it, but it's outweighed by tremendous benefits." More choice in health plans would allow employers to negotiate better rates. However, most states will go ahead with plans to try to offer more choices in spite of having the option to delay, he said.

The Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying that, by delaying the provision, small business insurance through the health exchange "will be of little or no value to employers, or by extension, their employees. We believe that as employers assess whether or not to offer coverage to their employees, the more flexibility that they have in deciding how and what to offer, within the confines of the law, the more likely employers will continue to offer health care coverage," the statement read.

SESCO will continue to monitor developments in health care reform to include compliance as well as recommendations for employers on best practices for their firms. In the mean time, SESCO has recently updated "An Employer's Guide to Healthcare Reform" providing a detailed overview of what is required by the law, including a timeline indicating when different provisions are to be implemented. This white paper is available for $50.00 ($30.00 for retainer clients) and may be ordered by phone at 423-764-4127, by clicking HERE from our Online Publications store, or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com.

SESCO is also counseling employers onsite, conducting webinars for associations and chambers of commerce and subsequently is available to support your company's efforts in understanding, preparing for, and complying with this regulation.