Health Insurance Exchanges Reopen Beginning November 15

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    Small Business Health Options Programs will be available online for businesses in all states

    The Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges for individuals and small businesses are slated to reopen for open enrollment on Saturday, November 15. And while this is the second year for the individual exchanges, this enrollment period will mark the first time that Small Business Health Options Programs (SHOP) will be available online for businesses in all states, whether the exchanges are state or federally funded.

    The online SHOP exchanges had initially been scheduled to roll out in late 2013, but last December the White House decided to delay by one year online enrollment in the federally operated SHOP health insurance exchanges. Some state-run SHOP exchanges, however, did begin accepting small employer applications online last year. Now all 50 states will offer online enrollment in the SHOP exchanges.

    SHOP Exchanges are available to businesses that employ 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees. Employers will be able to set up an account and upload employee information, and health care plan details and prices will be published on the SHOP exchange based on the information provided by the employer.

    However, not every state will be offering “employee choice” as part of the SHOP Exchange in 2015.  The employee choice feature of SHOP provides employers the opportunity to allow their employees to choose from a number of health insurance plans chosen by the employer.

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published a final rule that allows state insurance commissioners to submit a recommendation that employee choice not be implemented in a particular state, so long as the commissioner believes it is in the best interest of the small group market consumers in the state (e.g., if the commissioner believes that implementing employee choice would cause issuers to price products and plans higher in 2015).

    To see which states with federally funded exchanges will offer employee choice in 2015, click here. Most state-funded SHOPs will offer employee choice as part of their small business health exchange.

    In regard to individual health insurance shoppers, the Obama Administration is allowing consumers in states with federally funded exchanges the opportunity to review health insurance options this week, though they will not be able to purchase insurance until Saturday, November 15, as reported by the New York Times.

    To find out if your state has a state-run or federally run health insurance exchange, and for other key details about health care reform, go to ABA’s health care reform advocacy page or contact ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7562 or via e-mail.