Thursday, October 30, 2014

SHOP - Not as "Easy as Buying a Plane Ticket"

Ohio is one of five states with early access to the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). The SHOP is the only place where an employer can receive a small business tax credit and offer multiple insurance companies and plans. With early access we have the green light to quote plans and rates for 2015 right now. Yesterday was my first "experience" in the system.

One of my clients believes they will receive a substantial tax credit for health insurance. Their accountant told them it would be advantageous to take it - if they qualify. Last year they dropped employer sponsored insurance but are looking to go back because they are having difficulty retaining employees and are worried about the individual plan rate increases.

Here is how the process went.

First, you create an account using the same platform as an individual does. This is where we encountered our first issue. The CEO had created an individual account with his email address and even though we were in the SHOP it wouldn't allow him to create another account with the same email.

After creating another email we finally established the account. Then we had to verify that the CEO was the CEO. The same personal questions from the individual market were asked of my client. Before committing to answer he asked a very good question that I'm sure nobody has an answer to yet:  "What if I leave the company? Is there a transfer of this account to the new person in charge?" We couldn't get an answer from the call center.

He reluctantly completed the verification and we hit enter. Then this occurred...

Back at it again this morning we were finally able to verify and began (again!) entering all of the employer information. While redundant, it seemed like we were going in the right direction. Success is achieved. Next step.

It asked us to begin entering information for each employee. We could either do that or download an excel document and populate it into the system. We elected to view the excel document and see what all is needed to complete the process.

Oh boy, this isn't going to be fun. The spreadsheet has 20 columns to complete for each employee. Each dependent has an additional 8 columns to complete. You must provide date of birth, social security number, date of hire, address, employee code, and a preferred method of contact for each employee and their dependents.

We are stopped once again. The employer needs to have someone complete the spreadsheet with the proper format. Cut and paste are great tools and hopefully will make transposing easier. But the company still has to get dates of birth and social security numbers of spouses and dependents.

At this point the employer is stopping the process. Without knowing the rates and benefits it doesn't make sense to waste productivity gathering all of the data. Instead we will wait until the insurance companies are allowed to quote the plans directly. When will that be? I'm not sure but I'll bet it won't be until after next Tuesday.
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