Four small businesses enroll in Arkansas SHOP insurance program on first day

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 180 views 

Four Arkansas small businesses created profiles allowing their employees to purchase insurance coverage through My Arkansas Insurance during its first day of operation Sunday, the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace (AHIM) said Monday (Nov. 2).

Known more formally as the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, the insurance exchange serves small businesses with 2-50 employees, a number set by state law. Employers, employees and agent/brokers can view options at myarinsurance.com. A Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is available for employers with fewer than 25 full-time-equivalent employees with average salaries of $50,000 or less.

The My Arkansas Insurance website lets users consider plan options and includes a calculator for small businesses to estimate their tax credit. It also includes a search tool to find certified agents or brokers. Users can use the site in English and Spanish.

The SHOP first was created by the federal Affordable Care Act for small business employees to purchase health insurance online at healthcare.gov. The federally operated exchange enrolled about 200 individuals. With My Arkansas Insurance, the state is taking over responsibility for the program.

My Arkansas Insurance has been created through a three-year, $7.2 million contract with Virginia-based information technology provider hCentive, which helped create the federal SHOP marketplace and the marketplaces for states including Massachusetts and Colorado. The contract was funded as part of a $99.9 million federal grant to AHIM. So far, about $1.5 million has been paid to the company. My Arkansas Insurance launched six months after the state contracted with hCentive.

A contact center is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is (844) 952-9522.

AHIM is also considering whether the state should manage the marketplace exchange for individuals purchasing insurance. Also accessed through healthcare.gov, it has enrolled about 65,000 Arkansans. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has questioned if the state should operate its own exchange and asked AHIM to pause its efforts in that regard, which it has done.