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SHOP (Small Business) Exchanges to Launch Early in 5 States

Hat Tip To: 
Esther F., Dee

Last October, at the height of the botched HC.gov rollout, I repeatedly commented over at Daily Kos:

 I still don't know why they didn't roll it out one state per day; if they'd gone alphabetically, they would have had a solid week to work the kinks out with a (relatively) low volume before hitting a big state:

  • Alabama, Alaska, Arizona and Arkansas are all relatively low-population.
  • California, Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware* are all state-run exchanges.
  • That means they wouldn't have hit Florida on the federal site until tomorrow.

I know that the system still would have had serious software issues, but at least they wouldn't have to deal with the massive overload of traffic at the same time that they were trying to fix the issues.

*(Obviously I was mistaken at the time about Delaware running their own exchange, but it's still a low-population state so my point was still valid...and of course the District of Columbia does run their own exchange).

Well, obviously it was too late for that at the time, and they've since scrambled to get their act together on the individual exchange side.

However, the small business (aka "SHOP") side of the HC.gov exchange was put on the back burner for Year One while they focused on getting the individual/family enrollment side working...leaving just a handful of state exchanges to sign up employees & their dependents for small businesses. As a result, the SHOP column of the spreadsheet only has around 72,000 people total...essentially a rounding error on The Graph.

The good news is that this time around they're taking my advice on the SHOP rollout (sort of):

Companies in five states will next month gain early access to the federal government’s online health insurance portal for small businesses, where employers will finally be able to shop for and purchase plans over the Internet, a federal health official tells The Washington Post.

Small employers in Delaware, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and New Jersey will in late October be the first ones permitted to create a business account on Healthcare.gov, select an agent or broker, check their eligibility for plans and upload their employee information. Starting in November, plan details and prices will become available on the federally facilitated small-business portal, abbreviated FF-SHOP, giving firms in those states a head start on enrollment for 2015 insurance plans.

The remaining states that elected not to build and run their own health insurance exchanges, thus defaulting to the federal site, will get access to the revamped small business marketplace on Nov. 15.

...Officials say they selected the five early-access states by analyzing existing insurance markets and seeking those that have an established network of engaged stakeholders. HHS plans to use feedback it receives from small businesses, insurers and public officials in those five states to improve the national rollout in mid-November.

OK, it's not alphabetical, and it's not one per day, but the principle is the same: Pick a few states to do some "beta testing" before rolling it out nation-wide. Not sure what the reasons for going with those 5 states in particular was, but that's fine.

This is a smart move.

It's also amusing, as Esther F. pointed out, that they've decided to change the abbreviation from "SHOP" to "FF-SHOP". I'm guessing this has something to do with covering all the angles depending on the outcome of the Halbig/King cases, but whatever.