Small Group Employer Participation in New Mexico's State Coverage Insurance Program

Lessons for Federal Reform

Both administrative and financial concerns contribute to low, small group employer participation in New Mexico's State Coverage Insurance (SCI) program.

The authors of this study aimed to learn about factors hindering participation in SCI. They conducted telephone surveys of SCI-participating small employers and small employers who had inquired about, but not enrolled in SCI. They used descriptive and multivariate analyses to examine their data, assessing employer characteristics, employer administrative and cost concerns, employers’ prior insurance offers and SCIs perceived affordability.

Employers who inquired about SCI had trouble understanding how eligibility requirements applied to their business and employees; participating employers were more concerned about the time necessary to process applications. Inquiring employers were also more likely to be concerned about their ability to afford their share of the first month’s premiums and about SCIs long-term costs.

The federal tax credit offered to small businesses to offset the employer's share of insurance premiums might be more effective than programs such as SCI if it included more support to businesses.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE) funded this study. SHARE supports research on the impact of coverage expansion efforts and guidance on how to effectively implement health reforms. The articles included in this special issue of HSR: Health Services Research represent the first round of SHARE's research.