States responsible for health insurance exchanges for small businesses

Most of us know that in 2014, states will open health insurance exchanges (or the federal government will run a backup exchange for them) But actually states are running two exchanges – one for individuals and one for small businesses, known as Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges.

To the consumer, they may look the same, and people may access them through the same website. But states have the option of keeping them separate (which is what most states are planning as of now) or of merging them. The February edition of Health Affairs (which AHCJ members can get access to) has a series of articles on the SHOP exchanges, and there’s a summary on the Health Affairs blog.

Some of the articles re-examine the conventional wisdom about the fiscal rational for keeping SHOP and individual exchanges separate. There’s also a one-hour webinar supported by the Commonwealth Fund on Feb. 22 that looks more closely at the role the exchanges will have in covering small businesses – and how these new insurance markets may eventually prove attractive to larger businesses as well.

Joanne Kenen (@JoanneKenen) is AHCJ’s health reform topic leader. If you have questions or suggestions for resources, please send them to

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