The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is letting states with HHS-run public exchanges decide whether to offer small employers a multiple-plan coverage option in 2015. Eighteen HHS exchange states have decided against offering the “employee choice” option. Fourteen states with HHS-run exchanges will try to offer employers an option.
In some states – Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming — the employer choice option will be the default coverage option.
In a state with an employee choice option, a small employer that gets “qualified health plan” (QHP) coverage from a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange can offer employees a chance to choose any QHP available within a specified coverage “metal level.”
If, for example, XYZ Auto Parts chose the “Gold Employee Choice Option,” the employees could sign up for any gold-level group QHP available in that market. The program would not necessarily guarantee that the employees would have a long menu of coverage options.
This year, some U.S. counties have only one SHOP QHP provider, and some have none. Employers in states without a SHOP exchange employee choice option could offer traditional, single-plan coverage.
Officials at the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) — the HHS arm in charge of HHS efforts to implement the commercial health insurance provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — have announced the state employee choice option decisions with a list on the CCIIO website.