Expansion of the Small Group Health Insurance Market
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Expansion of the Small Group Health Insurance Market

Delaying Expansion of the Small Group Health Insurance
Market Would Be Harmful to Entrepreneurs
Kelsey Bye | Media and Communications Associate 

Small Business Majority’s Vice President, Terry Gardiner, participated in a briefing on Capitol Hill today discussing the evolving coverage landscape for small businesses under the healthcare law, and specifically the consequences of delaying expansion of the small group health insurance market in 2016
Washington D.C.—Small Business Majority’s Vice President, Terry Gardiner, participated in a Capitol Hill briefing today with healthcare experts, insurers, business groups and others to discuss how delaying the scheduled 2016 expansion of the small group market would be harmful to the new small business health insurance marketplaces and to small businesses looking forward to this option.
Currently the marketplaces, known as Small Business Health Options Program or SHOP, are open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees. On Jan. 1, 2016, the marketplace is scheduled to expand to include businesses and nonprofit organizations with up to 100 employees. Allowing these firms to enter the small group market can offer a wealth of benefits, both to firms that already offer health insurance and those shopping for coverage for the first time.
“Expanding the small group market will increase the size of the insurance pool and expand the number of lives eligible for the marketplaces, which is good for businesses and for the success of SHOP,” said Gardiner. “Expanding the small group market would expand the number of employees in it from approximately 22 million to 38 million, which will help spread risk among a larger group of people.
This will lower healthcare costs for the system overall. What’s more, as many of these businesses already offer insurance to their employees, these firms have a higher incidence of both employer and employee familiarity with health insurance, and will have more time and human resources to engage in SHOP.” 
Expanding the small group market will also ensure employers are no longer charged more for insurance based on the gender or health status of their workers, and will put in place new limits to control how much more a business can be charged for its older workers. And, we’d see more broker involvement in SHOP as firms of this size are more likely to utilize the help of agents. These firms mean more to a broker’s book of business and their incomes.
The Affordable Care Act was meant to bring relief to small businesses struggling with high healthcare costs and all of the administrative burdens that were part of the status quo. Instead of chipping away at the law and delaying key small business provisions, policymakers need to strengthen the ACA by expanding the small business marketplaces next year, fully implementing employee choice in all of the SHOP marketplaces, and simplifying and expanding the small business healthcare tax credit.