GAO Confirms SHOP Exchanges Flopped

Published November 14, 2014

It’s difficult to pinpoint what the biggest failure of Obamacare has been to date when comparing expectations to actual results. The near-immediate abandonment of the the CLASS program, which was supposed to provide long-term care coverage for the elderly, shortly after passage of Obamacare is certainly a contender. The initial launch of the exchanges, obviously.

Another candidate for biggest flop has to be the SHOP exchanges, which were supposed to allow small businesses to find affordable options for their employees. The federal government even dangled tax credits (badly designed, of course) in an attempt to lure small businesses into the SHOP exchanges.

Yesterday the Government Accountability Office released its report on the SHOP exchanges, helpfully titled “Small Business Health Insurance Exchanges: Low Initial Enrollment Likely due to Multiple, Evolving Factors” to ensure there’s no confusion about their findings, reveals that only 78,000 people at 12,000 companies have gained coverage through state-run SHOP exchanges (apparently the government isn’t releasing data for the federal SHOP exchanges, but GAO doesn’t seem to think those numbers will add much).

The expectation, according to the Congressional Budget Office as of April 2014, was for around 2 million enrollees. 

Doing the math in my head, I get the figure four percent, as in the SHOP exchanges have achieved about four percent of their goal. That’s better than the zero percent covered by the CLASS Act, I suppose, but still has to be considered a contender for biggest flop in Obamacare.