Smaller employers have been wading into the big Obamacare marketplace set up to sell health insurance to workers at small businesses.
But a month into the launch of the federal SHOP exchanges, small-business owners report mixed results with the program—a key part of President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul that's intended to insure more Americans, regardless of the size of their employers.
The exchanges "required me to have a lot of data that we don't routinely collect," said Harold Jackson, who runs medical equipment supplier Buffalo Supply in Lafayette, Colorado. The SHOP exchanges—short for the Small Business Health Options Program—are run by the federal government and available in 33 states.
Detailed data on how small employers are taking to the federally run SHOP exchanges in the 33 states are not yet available. However, a Government Accountability Office report released last month—on additional state-run exchanges—offers some clues. About 2 million people were projected to enroll in 2015, But as of last summer, only 76,000 individuals working for 12,000 small employers had enrolled on state-run SHOP exchanges.
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The numbers for now suggest interest and incentives just aren't there for small employers to use these exchanges, says Yevgeniy Feyman, a Manhattan Institute fellow and deputy director of the Center for Medical Progress.
But Katie Hill, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said, "The SHOP marketplace is performing well, call volume is up at our SHOP call center, and consumers are getting into the system and shopping for coverage.
"We expected to experience the normal issues that any complicated technology does upon launch and have seen only a small number so far. And we will continue to work everyday to make the consumer experience simpler and more intuitive," said Hill in an email to CNBC.