The policy changes on the Hill continue to make headlines every day and it’s tough to keep up with the action. If you are a small business owner, something happened last week that you need to know about. The CMS announced that it was planning to end the federally facilitated SHOP exchange, which covers a total of 8,000 small businesses in 33 states, at the end of 2017. And you guessed it - Texas is one of the states affected and it might be time to start looking for a SHOP replacement in Texas.
What does this mean?
- Healthcare.gov would still determine eligibility for SHOP exchange participation.
- It will no longer handle enrollment for employers or employees, process premium payments, or handle other SHOP functions.
- Small businesses would enroll directly with brokers registered with the SHOP exchange or with insurers offering SHOP plans.
- State-based SHOP marketplaces would continue online enrollment or could direct small business employers to a SHOP-registered broker.
Why is this happening?
The CMS claims that it will “help employers find affordable healthcare coverage for their employees and make their SHOP exchanges function more effectively.” With the end of the SHOP exchange, we think its more likely that the choices available to small business employees will be more limited, perhaps to a single plan or to a few plans offered by a single insurer. This is the exact opposite of what small businesses need. That’s why you need Take Command Health and our new small business platform. We are here to help small business owners like you access more options and make smart decisions about your health insurance.
Why does it matter?
While this will affect a relatively small percentage of small businesses, many believe the implications of this move are very symbolic, emphasizing the current administration’s plans to chip away at Obamacare with executive authority while we wait for Congress to hash out the details of the repeal and replacement plan that was promised.
The SHOP Exchange has fallen short in terms of numbers since the beginning. The Congressional Budget Office had originally estimated that 4.6 million employees would benefit from the Shop Exchange, and currently only upwards of 40,000 employees are enrolled through the Shop Exchange. And almost half of SHOP enrollments are in Vermont and the District of Columbia, where small employers must purchase coverage through the SHOP. While it isn't a perfect system, small businesses can't wait around for Congress to make decisions about health insurance.
So what do I do now?
Are you one of the 8,000 small business that need to find a Healthcare.gov SHOP alternative? Don’t worry, we can help. Take Command Health now offers a Small Business Platform to help small business owners just like you win at health insurance. Our team can discuss your options and help you choose the best health insurance strategy for your business. We even offer enrollment and management of QSEHRAs that save you money and offer better benefits for your employees. Once enrolled we will help your employees navigate their healthcare options based on their needs, their doctors and their budgets. Take Command Health will focus on your employee benefits so you can focus on running your business. `
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I wrote this blog because I care about ideas (big and little) that can help fix our healthcare system. I used to work on projects for Kaiser Permanente and the Parkland Health & Hospital System so I've seen the system inside and out. It's so important that consumers keep up with industry shifts and changing health insurance regulations. I'm also Take Command Health's Content Editor and a busy mom. Learn more about me and connect with me on our about us page. Thanks!