State applies for SHOP insurance marketplace

JACKSON — On Aug. 28, the United States Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations that will now allow states to apply to operate a state-based free market Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplace.

“Mississippi is in a position to begin operation of a free market SHOP marketplace in the first quarter of 2014,” Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney said.

Chaney stressed that a SHOP marketplace is not an ObamaCare state exchange for subsidized beneficiaries and does not expand Medicaid. He also noted that the Mississippi State Senate passed a bill to create such a marketplace before ObamaCare was proposed.

“The state has had a developed plan ready since early 2013 and has been waiting for Federal approval of our request to operate the free market approach of SHOP exchanges,” Chaney said.

A SHOP Marketplace is designed to assist employers and facilitate enrollment of employees into qualified health plans (QHPs). Small employers, primarily those with fewer than 50 eligible employees, will be able to apply and enroll online in an array of QHPs. The SHOP Marketplace will offer a flexible and easy-to-understand plan selection process for both employers and employees, and will include services for premium billing and payment processing, among others.

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