18 States Will Offer No Choice Under Obamacare

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 09:14 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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For the second straight year, the small business component of Obamacare — known as SHOP — is proving to be calamitous, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reports that 18 states have been given a delay on offering employees multiple healthcare plans from which to choose.

First, technical problems resulted in President Barack Obama delaying for one year the online insurance marketplaces for small businesses, a measure intended to provide employees the ability to choose from a range of plans. Now comes the second delay for the 18 states, which the law’s supporters worry "could gravely damage the small business exchange’s growth," according to Politico.

"Just imagine trying to run a small company and keep up with all of the changes and delays regarding this law," John Arensmeyer, head of the Small Business Majority, told the Journal.

Touted as a way for small businesses to offer their employees choice, Obamacare in the 18 states given the extension means one employer-designated plan will be the sole option.

Federal regulators agreed to provide the extension to the 18 states after insurance commissioners complained premiums could increase if there were multiple plan options.

"That was based largely on the assumption that a small number of unhealthier employees might be drawn to particular plans," according to the Journal.

Offering choice has been touted as a way to not only provide employees greater options, but to keep premiums low, since insurers would be forced to compete for business.

The administration says the small business exchanges will launch Nov. 15, but technical limitations mean they will initially lack certain functions, such as the option for employers to contribute different amounts for part-time and full-time employees, according to the Journal.

Pilot testing for the small business exchanges is scheduled for October, though the website is still being built, Politico reports. A "premium aggregation" function is still in the works, according to The Washington Times, which would allow employers to offer plans from multiple insurance companies but pay a single bill.

The delay is illustrative of yet another lack of uniformity in Obama’s signature piece of legislation.

"This pattern of continued delays and confusion is especially disappointing to me and the small-business community,as many firms grapple with increased health costs," House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, told Politico.

The 18 states granted the delay are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

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