by Katherine Restrepo
Director of Health Care Policy, John Locke Foundation
Obamacare’s Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP exchanges, were supposed to open last year. This, too, was delayed for a year. Come November 15, small employers with up to 25 full time employees can participate and either offer employees one health insurance option or multiple plans within a specified level of coverage (bronze, silver, gold, platinum). Under specific conditions, a federal tax credit would be distributed to employers in return.
The Wall Street Journal reports that small businesses in North Carolina and 17 other states will offer just one plan to their employees:
The federal health law also called for employees at small businesses to be able to choose from a range of plans on the exchanges. Federal regulators said they were allowing states to restrict employees to the plan designated by their employer to avoid the risk of premium increases.
Some state insurance commissioners had worried that letting employees choose from a range of plans could lead to some products ending up with a small number of workers who then incur big medical bills. Commissioners feared insurers would raise prices to guard against that prospect.
Regulators said Tuesday they approved 18 states’ requests to limit the choice to one employer-designated plan. The regulators said state insurance commissioners had shown that allowing employees to choose from a range of plans could cause health insurers to charge more. That was based largely on the assumption that a small number of unhealthier employees might be drawn to particular plans.