The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is gaining traction in most states as carriers decide to participate in the program. Although the state SHOPs face challenges, it appears that this component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is falling into place.

That's the conclusion of a study by the Commonwealth Fund, which examined the status of SHOP programs in every state and the District of Columbia.

"Nearly all state-based SHOP marketplaces attracted enough competition to offer small employers and employees a choice of insurers and plans, across a range of coverage levels and in nearly every county," Commonwealth reported. "The number of insurers participating in the states ranged from one in Washington to 10 in New York. In all but four states — Minnesota, Nevada, New York, and Washington — the SHOP had participation from more than one insurer in every county."

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.