Obamacare online marketplace for small businesses delayed

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced a one year delay for online enrollment in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), a part of the Affordable Care Act.

HHS said online access to the federally-facilitated SHOP Marketplace is anticipated to be available by Nov., 2014, one year after it was initially planned.

This delay does not halt the entire SHOP Marketplace. Small businesses have been able to apply for SHOP coverage by paper application since the beginning of open enrollment on Oct. 1. 

“For 2014, small employers will enroll their employees in coverage through an agent, broker, or insurer that offers a certified SHOP plan and has agreed to conduct enrollment according to HHS standards,” HHS said. “Your agent, broker, or insurer can help you fill out a paper application and send it to the SHOP Marketplace, or you can mail the application in yourself, if you want.”

This announced change will impact states, such as Wisconsin, that have a federally-facilitated marketplace, but “won’t affect the process for getting SHOP coverage in states running their own SHOP Marketplace,” HHS said.

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