The SHOP marketplace in the state is now no longer available for businesses shopping for coverage.
The most populous state in the country has now decided to take down the California health insurance exchange that was meant for small businesses, likely only temporarily, only four months after it had opened its doors in the first place.
This could be seen as yet another blow to the health care reform law for keeping costs down for employers.
Officials in the state revealed that they would be suspending enrollments occurring online through the California health insurance exchange as of the end of last week. Though the exchange for individual enrollment would be remaining open, the part of the Covered California portal meant for small businesses would be shutting its doors for now.
It will still be possible to buy the California health insurance policies through SHOP over other channels.
The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is staying open in terms of taking enrollments over the phone, by way of paper applications, and by way of insurance agents and brokers, but its online portal has now been taken down.
Officials in the state have said that in light of the latest delays from the health care reform law, they would be taking the additional time to “implement a series of redesigns.” They found that the portal for small businesses was not fully meeting the needs of either small employers or agents, so the state is taking the opportunity to improve it so that it will achieve better performance.
According to a statement from Peter V. Lee, the Covered California Executive Director, “Taking the portal offline will not affect the paper application process, which has been the preferred enrollment method traditionally used by insurance agents in the small-group market.”
Lee also pointed out that he feels that when the California health insurance exchange for small employers is brought back up again, the newer version will “significantly enhance the enrollment process” for those businesses. There have been approximately 600 small businesses that have used Covered California to enroll in group plans, so far. This represents almost 4,500 people. There are about 200 additional group applications that are currently being processed.