It seemed that the ACA was saying that insurance companies would be allowed to decline to offer coverage to small employers for failure to satisfy minimum contribution or group participation requirements under state law or the SHOP standards.
In a final rule published 3.27.13, the HHS clarified, saying: ” Upon further consideration of this issue, we have determined that small employers (less than 100 employees) cannot be denied guaranteed availability of coverage for failure to satisfy minimum participation or contribution requirements.”
The carriers will continue set minimum contribution or group participation requirements beyond 1.1.14., but HHS says, “…in the case of a small employer that fails to meet contribution or minimum participation requirements, an issuer may limit its offering of coverage to an annual open enrollment period, which we set forth in this final rule as the period beginning November 15 and extending through December 15 of each year.
Generally, the group market will have continuous open enrollment, except for small employers that fail to meet contribution or minimum participation requirements, for which the enrollment period may be limited to the annual enrollment period described above, from November 15 through December 15. This approach addresses concerns about adverse selection.