The U.S. Department of Health Human Services (HHS) is pushing the launch of the federal small-group public exchange Web enrollment system back to November.
The delay in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) online enrollment system start affects only the states in which HHS will be running federally facilitated exchanges (FFEs).
States that are running their own state-based exchanges can still get their Web-based SHOP enrollment systems going Oct. 1, the official launch date for the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public health insurance exchange system.
The delay will also have no direct effect on the FFE individual exchange program.
Reuters is reporting that Obama administration officials told it that small employers in FFE states will still be able to enroll in SHOP plans Oct. 1 by filling out paper forms or calling an FFE call center.
John Greene, a vice president at the National Association of Health Underwriters, said his group has learned that agents and brokers will be able to sell SHOP plans Oct. 1.
“It won’t be an electronic train,” Greene said. “It will be a little horse and buggy. But they can still get it done.”
Having the ability to start the SHOP enrollment process before the federal exchange Web enrollment system could help brokers get an edge over that system in the SHOP market.