As of next year, the only state (aside from two counties) without a “SHOP” will be Washington.
In 2014, other than two counties near the border of Oregon, the only state that won’t have a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), will be Washington, which means that the small employers across that state won’t have health insurance options that will bring them the federal tax credits that would help to keep the cost of the coverage for their workers down under the Affordable Care Act.
Although the state has dozens of different plans for the individual market, only one company is interested in small business.
In Washington, the exchange to provide individuals with health insurance options involves the participation of eight insurers that have provided dozens of different options. However, the only one that has stepped up for participation in a small business marketplace was Kaiser Permanente, and even that was offered only in the two counties of Clark and Cowlitz.
This lack of health insurance options has caused massive frustration in Washington small businesses.
Although Washington remains the only one that does not have its SHOP in order, it is not the only state that struggled in making sure that it would be able to offer health insurance options. Mississippi and Maryland have both had to delay the launch of their exchanges for small businesses until the spring of next year. Moreover, Wisconsin’s statewide coverage is not considered to be complete.
Among the states whose SHOP is federally run – which is most of them – the program is up and running, but the availability of online enrollment won’t be in place until next year. Therefore, even small businesses in the areas where the systems are in place won’t be able to use the online marketplaces until 2014.
While there may be a delay to the health insurance options available to small businesses who would prefer to use the internet, they still have the chance to enroll using other avenues, which means that they can still take advantage of the tax credits promised through the Affordable Care Act. Washington is the only state in which nearly all of its counties are not offering any policies that would allow small businesses to take advantage of those tax credits.