Small Employer Exchange Delayed
The Exchanges are scheduled to open this Tuesday, but regulators announced today that there will be some delays to the Small Business Health Options Program, also known as the SHOP Exchange.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are still expected to have the ability to go online, compare their options and start an application as of October 1st, but they won’t be able to complete the entire enrollment process until some time in November. This would still allow employers to offer coverage with a January 1, 2014 effective date.
The delay to the SHOP Exchange impacts all federally-facilitated and state partnership Exchanges. Many state-based Exchanges are still expected to be fully operational for the small employer market on October 1st.
There have been no delays at this point with the Individual Exchanges. Gary Cohen with the Department of Health and Human Services said, “The individual market will open on time Oct. 1 with full online enrollment and plan shopping.”
Obama’s health care law created small business markets known as SHOP exchanges for companies with up to 100 employees to buy coverage from a range of competitive plans. Small firms with low-wage workers can also apply for tax credits to help make the coverage more affordable.
Under the law, most small businesses do not have to provide coverage. But firms with 50 or more employees face a mandate to offer insurance or risk fines from the government. That mandate was supposed to take effect Jan. 1, but the administration earlier delayed it by a year to address employer complaints about overly complicated paperwork.