ObamaCare's small-business exchanges aren't attracting many insurers so far

The Obama administration and their allies have been turning their attentions lately, not merely to actually implementing the colossal mess of new rules and regulations and programs and taxes ObamaCare requires, but also to selling the thing to the American public — because without an “informed” and willing populace to quickly populate the system, the whole thing is even less likely to get off to an even remotely successful start. The declining public support for the law isn’t a great sign, seeing as how they’d desperately like to engineer some large-scale participation before the 2014 midterms.

In the scramble to deliver on its many oh-so-generous promises, however, the administration has already had to readjust several of their proffered timelines, and they’ve been putting their emphasis on getting the individual insurance exchanges up and running as priority numero uno — meaning that the promised features for small businesses are getting put on the back-burner. Via Politico:

Obamacare’s new insurance marketplaces for small businesses, which have already stumbled before getting out of the gate, are facing another pressing question just months before millions can sign up for benefits: What happens if insurers don’t show up to sell?

Early looks at insurance offerings on the Obamacare exchanges show that insurers aren’t exactly signing up in droves to sell on the new Small Business Health Option Program exchanges. In some states, just one insurer has signed up for the SHOP exchanges, which are supposed to foster competition and make it easier for small businesses to purchase coverage. The SHOP exchanges exist alongside the exchanges for individuals, which have gotten more attention in preparation for the health law’s rollout.

The Obama administration is still trying to recruit insurers to states where there’s been little interest in exchanges. But some health law advocates believe administration health officials have put a greater emphasis on standing up the individual exchanges, where they hope premium tax credits will be a big draw for millions to sign up for coverage next year.

In many cases, they also see little incentive for SHOP exchanges in 2014. A limited tax credit for small businesses available only in the SHOP exchanges has so far received less interest than expected, and a key feature providing employees with more freedom to pick their health plan has been delayed in most states.

In both Washington state and North Carolina, for instance, only a single insurer has signed up to offer insurance through the small-business exchanges, and in Mississippi, no insurers have signed up for the SHOP exchange (while only one insurer has signed up for their individual exchange, by the way!). What’s more, the delayed program that was supposed to help provide small-businesses employees with a greater array of choice in health plans isn’t going to get out of the gate until after 2015 in the federally-run state exchanges — none of which is going to help the Obama administration follow through on the key selling point that these exchanges would be helpful to small businesses in increasing competition and lowering costs.