Healthcare.gov, the beleagured online healthcare insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses, won’t be available to small businesses until late November, the chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on Tuesday, reports Businessweek.com. Originally, the date had been October 1. While companies with fewer than 50 employees aren’t required to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Healthcare.gov is supposed to serve as a marketplace for small businesses that want to provide it.
The business marketplace, known as the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP…won’t have set enrollment windows. Once it’s running, companies can purchase policies throughout the year, unlike individuals who must enroll by March 31, 2014 to get coverage next year.
Employers with more than 50 staff have gotten a one-year reprieve from the law’s requirement that they offer workers affordable health insurance or pay a fine. The troubled launch of healthcare.gov prompted lawmakers, including some Democrats, to call for giving individuals a similar break in 2014 by extending the enrollment period or lifting the penalty for skipping insurance next year. That’s something the insurance industry desperately wants to avoid.
Read full story: “Small Business Health-Care Shopping Delayed, Again” (Businessweek.com)
On the SmallBusiness.com WIKI: Affordable Care Act