Congressional Subcommittee Examines Small Business Health Options Program

Members Encourage Program Improvements

On Sept. 18, 2014, the U.S. House Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittee on Health and Technology held a hearing titled, “An Update on the Small Business Health Options Program: Is It Working for Small Businesses?” The purpose of the hearing was to examine the effectiveness of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOPs). The SHOPs are marketplaces established by Obamacare and were designed to assist small business owners compare and purchase health insurance plans for their employees.

During the hearing, members of the subcommittee were quick to raise questions regarding the efficiency of the SHOPs. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), subcommittee chairman, stated in his opening remarks: “Despite spending vast amounts of time and taxpayer dollars establishing the SHOPs, the program continues to be beset by operational delays and other problems that have undermined their utility as a tool for small businesses. These problems include the inability to utilize web-based portals, limited choice of plans, and a lack of insurance carrier participation in the SHOPs.”

Throughout the hearing, the members expressed frustration with the administration’s apparent lack of concern about the SHOPs performance. Despite several requests, the committee has not received any information regarding enrollment numbers or progress updates.

Witness Roger Stark, health care policy analyst at the Washington Policy Center in Seattle, stated: “Although the employer mandate is a critical part of the ACA, the SHOP marketplace for small businesses seems to be almost an afterthought in the law. There is no clear evidence of interest on the part of small companies to provide health insurance through a marketplace with tax credits.”

To learn more about the SHOP program, go to