NEW YORK (AP) — The number of small businesses using the new state health insurance exchanges seems to be higher than expected.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchanges, which began operating Oct. 1, have pleased some business owners and disappointed others.
A spot check of exchanges across the United States shows that the number of companies that have opened Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) accounts on any state exchange so far tends to be in the hundreds. Officials note it’s still early in the enrollment process, given that any policies sold through the exchanges won’t take effect until Jan. 1.
Officials in New York, Minnesota and Vermont say SHOP plan enrollments have surpassed expectations.
Signup rates differ widely, partly because of the way the exchanges and plans are set up.
In Maryland, the small business exchange won’t open until Jan. 1.
In Washington state, the small business exchange exists in only two of 39 counties. Insurers aren’t offering coverage elsewhere because most employers have private insurance plans or get their coverage through trade groups, says Michael Marchand, a spokesman for the exchange.
Even in the states in which small business exchanges aren’t yet open, there’s plenty of interest.
Oregon’s exchange won’t open until early November, but more than 16,000 people have visited the website’s SHOP plan section.
In Minnesota, about 350 small businesses had created accounts on the state’s exchange as of Tuesday morning.
“That’s more than we thought we would have,” says April Todd-Malmlov, executive director of the state’s exchange.
“I thought we’d just have a lot of lookers.”
Dominique Rodgers is pleased with the rates on Louisiana’s exchange.