SHOP exchange enrollment remains tepid

More than 450,000 consumers enrolled on during the first week of the new open enrollment period, but traffic to the section of the site for small businesses remains slow, the Washington Post reported.

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplace on received 200,000 visits Nov. 15-21, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That's compared to 1.5 million visits for the section of the health insurance marketplace for individuals, CMS said.

On both the federal and state-run sites, the SHOP exchanges face a Catch-22 of slow adoption and technical glitches, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Insurance brokers and small businesses tell the Post that these problems persist, with website functionality still untested and, as a result, certain regulatory requirements waived.

Before open enrollment began last month, only 2 percent of eligible small businesses had explored the state-run SHOP exchange sites. That said, the small-business exchanges are competitive, with multiple insurers and dozens of plans representing the norm.

It still remains to be seen if the federal site will succeed. John Arensmeyer, chief executive of Small Business Majority, told the Post that his organization does not expect a "massive surge" of applicants.

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