Delay in Small Business Health Options Program

Written on December 10, 2013

In yet another delay associated with the Affordable Care Act, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has pushed back the online enrollment process for the federally facilitated Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace. The online process will not be available until enrollment for plan years in 2015. For coverage effective during calendar year 2014, HHS will require employers to use “direct enrollment” which is using an agent, broker or insurer that offers a certified SHOP plan. This change will only impact states that are using the federally operated marketplace. While no requirement exists for employers with less than 50 full time-equivalent employees to provide coverage, the SHOP marketplace was intended as a way to compare coverage and prices. Acquiring health insurance for employees through the SHOP marketplace is also the only way the employer can qualify for the Small Business Health Insurance Credit after 2013. The “direct enrollment” method does satisfy this requirement. For employers seeking coverage effective January 1, 2014, the direct enrollment deadline for enrollment has been extended to December 23, 2013.

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