More Small Business Owners Moving Onto Exchanges?

Over the last few months, there has been a lot of talk about how much – or how little – small businesses would take to the availability of health insurance coverage through government-run exchanges. At first, sign-ups were extremely slow, but now it seems as though more companies are starting to come around to the idea.

Anecdotally, a number of health insurance companies now report that they’re seeing a decline in the number of small businesses that have privately-purchased health insurance, as they say many are now being attracted to the exchanges that recently opened for firms with fewer than 50 employees, according to a report from National Public Radio. The vast majority of such companies already offer health insurance to their workers as a means of remaining competitive with larger industry participants, but they are not compelled by federal law to do so.

However, without actual federal data, there’s not much evidence to show just how much this migration is happening, the report said. Initial information suggests that the numbers won’t be anywhere near as big as the rush to sign up for individual exchanges for the 2014 enrollment period, even as these companies already insure some 20 million people nationwide. Further, other health insurers say they haven’t really noticed this trend.

“We didn’t see that [kind of drop-off],” Rick Allegretti, vice president of marketing at Health Care Service Corp., operator of health insurance plans in five states including Illinois and Texas, told the news agency. “We actually saw our business grow slightly – mind you, it’s probably a tenth of a percent.”

What’s the issue?
One of the things that might be holding back broader enrollment in these exchanges is that the federal and most state governments are allowing companies to keep their old health plans even if they’re not necessarily conforming to federal rules for minimum requirements, the report said. Many others are offering their own subsidies to help workers find their own individual plans, instead of offering coverage through the companies themselves.

Owners who want to properly plan for these types of eventualities might want to consider the benefits of cutting other ongoing small business insurance costs. By doing so, such as by shopping for more affordable errors and omissions insurance, they might be able to save thousands of dollars annually, which can then go toward other aspects of the company including paying for health plans.