The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) June 4 released a final rule that delays for one year implementation of a provision related to health insurance exchanges that would allow small businesses to let their employees choose coverage from a number of plans.

The final rule provides that the federally facilitated Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will allow employers to choose one plan from a range of plans to offer their employees in 2014; however, SHOPs will not allow small businesses to let their employees choose coverage from a number of plans until 2015. This is a change from CMS’ previously proposed transitional policy which stated that in 2014. SHOPs will have the flexibility to decide whether employers can let their employees choose from a number of plans. 

In previously submitted comment letters, ABC, as part of the Small Business Coalition for Affordable Health Care, emphasized the importance of allowing qualified small employers to select a level of coverage under which a qualified employee may choose an available plan. This option would allow employers to essentially offer a defined-contribution option and permit employees to choose the plan that best fits their individual and family needs. Small employers view this as a significant first step toward providing freedom to individual employees to select the health care coverage of their choice within a specified range of plans. Rather than being forced to limit their employees to a single plan, small employers will be able to make a range of choices available and be free to run their business – rather than running their insurance plan.

Final SHOP applications:
http://www.cms.gov/cciio/Resources/Forms-Reports-and-Other-Resources/index.html#Affordable Insurance Exchange

ABC’s previous comments can be found in these Newsline stories:

Health Care Law Update: ABC Comments on Exchanges, Summary of Benefits

ABC Offers Solutions on Health Care Exchanges