by Marilyn Singleton MD, JD
On November 13th, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report finding that that enrollment for the state-operated Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), created by the Affordable Care Act, was significantly lower than expected. The 18 State-based-SHOPs had enrolled about 76,000 individuals—including employees, their spouses, and dependent children—in plans purchased through nearly 12,000 small employers, as of June 1, 2014, for most states.
No data was released for the federally-operated SHOP, but CMS told GAO it anticipates similarly low enrollment numbers. This report’s release comes just days after the Obama administration predicted that overall enrollment for next year is expected to be 30% lower than expected.
The GAO noted that the primary incentive for many small businesses to enroll in SHOPS was to utilize the small business health care tax credit. But the credit is so narrow, complex and temporary that it has been an insufficient incentive to enroll. Although the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and initially estimated over 4 million small businesses would be eligible for the credit, a 2012 GAO report showed only 170,300 actually claimed it.
House Small Business Committee Chairman Graves said, “The administration touted the SHOP as a way for small companies and their employees to benefit from more health insurance competition and choice, and ultimately lower prices. Instead, we have seen that costs are increasing for nearly two-thirds of small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees and the majority of small business owners paid more per employee for health insurance in 2013 than in 2012.”
Singleton MD,JD, Marilyn. “Another ObamaCare Miscalculation.” What’s New. Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, 26 Nov 2014. Web. 11 Dec 2014.