Health care reform
The federally run Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace opens in November 2014. However, the number of plans available on SHOP will vary by state until 2016.
SHOP was originally envisioned as an exchange that would provide employees of small businesses with a choice of health plans like those on the individual Marketplace. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ruled in April 2013 that when SHOP opened in 2014, it could offer only one plan, with employee choice beginning in 2015.
On May 27, 2014, HHS gave states the option of delaying employee choice until 2016. In this final rule, HHS allowed that State Insurance Commissioners could write to ask that employee choice not be implemented in 2015 if the commissioner concluded that "not implementing employee choice would be in the best interest of small group market consumers in his or her state."1 These requests were due to HHS by June 2, 2014.
After reviewing the requests, HHS has provided transition relief to 18 states with a federally facilitated SHOP. The remaining 14 states will provide plan choices to employees in 2015. See the list here.
More about SHOP
The SHOP Marketplace is a health insurance exchange for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, although until 2016 most states will likely limit access to employers with 50 or fewer employees. Through SHOP, smaller employers will be able to offer employees a variety of Qualified Health Plans, and employees can choose the plans that fit their needs and their budget.
The SHOP Marketplace can help smaller businesses by simplifying choices, preserving employer control and lowering costs by spreading insurers’ administrative costs across more employers.
The exchanges are intended to make it easier for employees to access and compare health insurance policy information, and to obtain subsidies for insurance costs, if they are eligible. This delay means many employees of small employers will not have a choice of plans in 2015.
In the states not implementing employee choice, employers will be able to offer a single medical plan and a single dental plan to their employees until 2016.