END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (41 states)

Time: D H M S

Minnesota: SHOP enrollment breaks record...on brink of potential ACA repeal.

I've decided that for all future ACA enrollment data reports, I'm going to tack on "...on brink of possible ACA repeal" to the headline. Seems appropriate.

It's been quite awhile since I've written much of anything about the ACA's SHOP programs, which are the small business counterpart to the individual/family exchanges. The reason is pretty simple: SHOP enrollment is mostly a rounding error compared to either the ACA's Individual exchange enrollments or Medicaid expansion numbers.

SHOP enrollment (a mere 120K - 170K nationally, as far as I can tell) is even dwarfed by BHP program enrollment (around 700,000)...and that's only available in 2 states (Minnesota and New York). Heck, I don't even bother tracking them on my spreadsheets or graphs (I tried in 2014 but gave up on it the following year).

Still, once in awhile there's a bit of SHOP news to report, and this press release out of Minnesota is such an occasion:

ST. PAUL, Minn.—MNsure's Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) has enrolled 1,934 employees from 438 different small businesses in 2017 health coverage. Demand for coverage through SHOP has increased significantly from 2016. The number of participating SHOP employers has risen 65 percent so far this year, adding 172 more employers and covering 700 more employees—a 57 percent increase from 2016. These figures represent the second straight year of double-digit growth in MNsure SHOP enrollment.

In collaboration with health insurance companies Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and Delta Dental, MNsure SHOP provides Minnesota’s small businesses with a variety of insurance options at different price points and benefits levels. More than 70% of small businesses enrolling in SHOP do so with the help of statewide MNsure-certified brokers.

“Providing health insurance is one of the widely acknowledged employer strategies for hiring and retaining quality employees in a highly competitive job market,” says MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole, “SHOP provides small employers with an opportunity to do the right thing for employees while serving their business’s bottom line.”

This milestone comes on the heels of MNsure’s announcement on Monday marking the first time the state health insurance marketplace has enrolled more than 100,000 Minnesotans into private health plan coverage.

Minnesota-based employers with 1-50 employees can enroll in SHOP at any time of the year. Find out more at mnsureshop.org. As of February 2016, 96 percent of Minnesotans have health coverage—the highest percentage in state history.

If 700 more employees = 57% more than last year, that means there were around 1,200 to begin with, for a total of roughly 1,700 employees covered by MN SHOP plans. Increase that by around 2.7x to account for spouses/children and the total covered lives should be something like 4,200 or so. Still a pretty nominal number, but every person counts.

Oh, and before you ask: I haven't a clue how much repealing the ACA would impact SHOP enrollees. The subsidies provided to employers have always been pretty skimpy to begin with (which is probably the main reason enrollment has been so anemic), and I don't know much about how SHOP works beyond that, so it's a bit foggy to me.