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Five States To Get Early Access To Small Business Health Insurance Marketplace

This copyrighted story comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , produced in partnership with KHN. All rights reserved.

Businesses in five states will get an early look at the federal health insurance marketplace for small businesses, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced Wednesday.

The states are Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey and Delaware.

Businesses with fewer than 50 full-time workers in those states will be able to access the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, in late October, ahead of the Nov. 15 start of open enrollment.

The five states were selected based on the agency’s analysis of state insurance markets and the availability of employee choice, among other factors, a department official said.

Employers, agents and brokers in the early access states will be able to complete eligibility applications, upload an employee roster, and view plans and pricing once they become available, the official said.

The administration delayed the SHOP implementation last year in the 36 states using the federal exchange to prioritize fixes to the insurance marketplace for individuals. However, small businesses could still purchase SHOP plans through an agent or broker using paper applications.

The official said that allowing employers to view the online exchange early would allow the government to gather feedback on the website.

The SHOP exchange is designed to allow a small business to compare competing plans. The company could then offer its employees a choice from among several policies, even from different carriers.

Under the law, businesses with fewer than 25 employees can potentially qualify for a tax credit worth up to 50 percent of their premium’s cost through the SHOP exchange.

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