The exchange, known as The Aetna Marketplace for Sam’s Club, will be available in 18 states beginning this month to members, their employees and their families. Employers can choose whether to offer a defined contribution plan or one that gives workers a flat, pre-tax contribution to apply toward a plan of their choice.
One of Sam’s Club’s chief rivals, Costco, already offers a private insurance marketplace that is geared at individual shoppers. The Sam’s Club marketplace is different in that it was designed specifically to appeal to small-business owners, although individual members could potentially sign up for it. Sam’s says that some 70 percent of its customers who hold business memberships have five or fewer employees.
This collaboration exploits the weak 2013-14 rollout of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) states must operate within their health benefit exchanges as the exchanges prioritized the individual plan side of their operations and outreach efforts.
Private sector marketplaces like this one compete with the SHOP. But the SHOP offers something they cannot: income tax credits for small employers with 25 or fewer employees paid an average of $50,000 or less annually. The credits can be claimed for a 2-year period provided the employer pays at least half of the premium.
Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email