Crain News Service report
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 27, 2013) — The Obama administration is delaying by one year online enrollment for small businesses looking to purchase healthcare coverage for their workers through the federally operated insurance exchanges, prompting the National Federation of Independent Business to call the decision "yet another onerous paperwork requirement for job creators."
Starting in 2014, the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, marketplace will be open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time workers and allows those businesses to compare health plans.
The administration said earlier this fall that it would delay online enrollment in SHOP through the federal exchange until November this year.
Small businesses can sign up immediately, however, through an insurer, agent or broker in 2014, according to a Health and Human Services official. The move is intended to allow small employers to sign up for coverage while the C M S continues to work on improving the online experience in the SHOP marketplace on HealthCare.gov.
HHS also said small businesses no longer have to apply to be certified before enrolling in a SHOP plan. Because the application was intended for tax credit purposes, HHS will allow businesses to file the application any time before the business files its taxes.
In the NFIB's response to the announced delay, Kevin Kuhlman, manager of legislative affairs, said the delay "is a disappointment but not a surprise. Small businesses continue to be low on the priority list during the Obamacare implementation process.
"It probably matters little to people in Washington that the failure to get the small business exchanges online adds yet another onerous paperwork requirement for job creators. The continued delays add to uncertainty and contribute to the decision of many owners to take early renewals of their small-group plans."
Story based on reporting by Jessica Zigmond, Modern Healthcare magazine, and Tire Business staff.