Last month, Albuquerque small business owner Don Leonard sat down in front of a computer with his insurance broker to shop for employee coverage on NMHIX, New Mexico’s health insurance exchange. They entered into the system the names, birth dates, and other data he’d gathered on his 20 employees and, inside of an hour, Leonard Tire and Automotive Repair became one of the first small employers in the country to buy insurance under Obamacare.
Many states have ceded the mechanics of health-care reform to the federal government or concentrated on developing their own insurance marketplaces for individuals. New Mexico stands out because it, along with Utah, first tackled getting small business owners and their employees covered through a state-run online marketplace known as a SHOP, or Small Business Health Options Program. Since New Mexico’s SHOP launched on Oct. 1, almost 1,400 employers have created accounts and 157 small companies have finalized their enrollment for coverage beginning in 2014.