Tags: Healthcare Reform | obamacare | SHOP | small businesses | healthcare

Small Businesses Slow to Embrace Obamacare Option

By    |   Monday, 01 December 2014 08:27 AM

After a lengthy delay, Obamacare’s Small Business Health Options Program, known as the SHOP exchange, is up and running, though the launch has been languid, according to The Washington Post.

The website, designed for businesses with 50 or fewer employees, went live in mid-November, a year after initially planned.

The idea behind the small business tenet of Obamacare was to create a marketplace to  allow small businesses to pool together, so that insurance carriers would offer "better and more affordable coverage" and workers would have more than one choice of health plans, according to the Post.

But in the two weeks since its launch, visits to the small business section of the website have paled in comparison to the part of healthcare.gov that offers insurance to individuals and families.

Citing data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS), the agency in charge of the online marketplaces, the Post reports that during the first week, the SHOP section of the site had just 200,000 visitors, compared with 1.5 million for individuals and families.

Experts have opined that one reason for the lack of interest is because the Obama administration last year postponed a requirement guaranteeing small business employees a choice of health plans, “a main selling point of SHOP,” according to the Post.

And just months before the SHOP section of healthcare.gov launched, it was announced that states could again not offer workers a choice of health plans.

"Of the 32 states relying on the federal SHOP marketplace, 18 decided to continue to skip the choice requirement," the Post reports.

Since Obamacare disastrous rollout last year, officials tell The New York Times they have overhauled the site and simplified the application process.

Additionally, outreach groups are taking to shopping malls, where they will help people sign up, with a particular focus on young people, minorities and those in living in rural areas.

They will also be emphasizing the penalty for failing to have coverage: $325 or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater. That’s a hefty increase from last year, when the penalty was $95 or 1 percent of income.

"We’re talking about the penalty a lot more," Cheryl O’Donnell, the Arizona state director for Enroll America, told the Times.

"What we’re saying is that if you don’t get coverage this time, your fine is going to double. When we start telling people that, it starts to click a little more for them."

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After a lengthy delay, Obamacare's Small Business Health Options Program, known as the SHOP exchange, is up and running but the launch has been languid, The Washington Post reports.
obamacare, SHOP, small businesses, healthcare
Monday, 01 December 2014 08:27 AM
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