Health Care Reform Update
Moving Forward to Full Implementation
Small Businesses to Wait a Year
The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, the part of the health care reform law intended to create a marketplace where small businesses (those with less than 100 employees) could choose from a variety of health plans, has been delayed until at least January of 2015.
The Small Business Health Options Program, included in regulations released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been delayed until at least January of 2015. This is the part of the health care reform law intended to create a marketplace where small businesses (those with less than 100 employees) could choose from a variety of health plans.
This delay will impact some 33 states that will have an exchange operated by the federal government. As part of the regulation, these exchanges will be able to offer only one plan that employers can offer to their workers. The National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobbying group that opposed the reform law, believes that the delay stemmed from the government underestimating the logistics involved in getting the exchanges up and running.
Employers Gaining Confidence
According to the 2013 survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), a vast majority of employers have abandoned the “wait and see” attitude and are taking steps to comply with the law. Our experience is consistent with these findings, as we help clients with predictive modeling of plan design changes, consumer directed options and ways to use wellness incentives to encourage healthier behavior.
The IFEBP results are being described as encouraging by many who have been quick to predict a drop in employer-sponsored health benefits. It may also suggest an interesting resemblance to the State of Massachusetts, where today, more people have employer sponsored coverage than seven years ago when their universal health care law was enacted – a trend recently reported in a two-part research study conducted by the PwC Health Research Institute.
Another indication of increased confidence on the part of employers is the interest in self-funding we’ve seen this year. Agents and employers are considering partial self-funding as a way to avoid a few of the regulations that fully-insured plans must meet.
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In cooperation with NAEBA