Though state and federal online healthcare marketplaces launched Tuesday, the Obama administration announced that the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges will not be available online until the beginning of November.
A number of technical issues are to blame for the delayed rollout, including the inability to see details of specific health plans. A similar issue confronted individuals browsing the federal marketplaces last week.
Small businesses using SHOP exchanges to purchase health plans for their employees may still enroll via fax or mail, but plans will still go into effect January 1 even if employers wait until the November 1 online launch.
This delay is the latest in a series of ACA delays with regard to employers. In April the administration announced that a provision requiring that small businesses be able to choose different plans for individual employees would be put off until 2015, though some state exchanges will offer the option for 2014. Until then, employers may choose a single plan that will cover all employees. In addition, the widely publicized employer mandate was also pushed back to 2015.
While critics of the ACA cite this delay as one more indication that the law should be repealed, there are four important things to remember:
- Issues with a large-scale technological launch are neither unexpected nor catastrophic. (Read: any Apple product launch ever.)
- Small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) are exempt from the employer mandate.
- Many small businesses use insurance brokers to purchase healthcare and are likely to continue doing so, so they can take advantage of a broker’s knowledge of the system
- Unlike the individual marketplace, open enrollment in the SHOP exchanges is year-round, reducing the sense of urgency to enroll immediately.
For small businesses that choose to offer healthcare to their employees, small business factoring can help cover the cost until applicable tax benefits (and the cost-saving ‘a la carte‘ health plan option) take effect. Factoring uses your company’s eligible accounts receivable to provide you with immediate cash to cover your ongoing expenses – including healthcare.