Two health insurance exchanges (also known as marketplaces) are set to open for enrollment on October 1, 2013. One exchange is open to individuals, who may be eligible to receive subsidies depending on their income and the availability of employer-sponsored coverage that meets certain criteria. The second exchange, called the Small Business Health Options Programs (SHOP), is open to businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Small businesses may purchase policies for their employees on the SHOP exchange and, in certain states, permit their employees to choose a plan that best fits their family’s needs. Coverage through the exchanges begins as early as January 1, 2014. Many of our members are asking how a shutdown of the federal government might impact these exchanges.
In short, the health exchanges should not be greatly impacted by a federal shutdown. The exchanges have been set up using federal funding that has already been allocated. And because new taxes and fees (some on employers) are already in the law, a government shutdown would not impact the revenue stream that is designed to pay for potential subsidies.
Last week, however, the Obama Administration announced that online enrollment in SHOP in states with federally facilitated exchanges is delayed from October 1 to November 1, 2013. Although online enrollment is delayed, the federally facilitated exchanges will still open on October 1, 2013 for businesses to review the available plan options and to submit paper applications. Coverage is still expected to begin on January 1, 2014. States in MSEC’s region with federally facilitated exchanges include Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Colorado is not affected by the delay as it has a state-run exchange.