While the business community supports a broad range of health plan choices, competition does not always result in cost savings.
Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act, Connecticut's exchange—Access Health CT—has offered plans in the individual and small group market.
While Access Health CT has built up its individual market enrollment, the same is not true for its Small Business Health Option Program, or SHOP.
Access Health has now turned to the legislature in a desperate attempt to boost SHOP enrollment.
Despite the unintended consequences that may result from the market shift and plan offerings as a result of this bill, the lack of participation in SHOP has serious implications.
Currently, two large carriers in the state offer a variety of 14 plans through the SHOP program.
However, only 308 groups, consisting of 1,500 members, are currently enrolled in these plans.
This persistent low enrollment requires Access Health to be financially subsidized by all insurance carriers in the state, not just those that offer SHOP plans.
Last year, that subsidy amounted to $32 million in assessments levied on insurance carriers and passed directly to plan enrollees.
Providing habitual support for the unsustainable SHOP program has resulted in cost increases for all private plans in the state, particularly those in the small group market.
Requiring insurance carriers to offer group plans on the state's exchange will not boost the perpetual low enrollment in SHOP.
Rather than subsidizing this failing program by providing it with additional resources, small businesses are better served by discontinuing the program, resulting in cost savings for all private plans.