CHICAGO (AP) — President Barack Obama’s administration is delaying yet another aspect of the health care law. An online health insurance marketplace for small businesses is being put off until November 2014 to make sure the HealthCare.gov website gets fixed first.
In a conference call with reporters, administration officials said employers who want to buy marketplace plans for their workers in states with federally run exchanges now will need to go through an agent, broker or insurance company to buy coverage this year, instead of using a government website. The administration says the plan will still allow small businesses to buy coverage but avoid slowing technical repairs to the hobbled federal online site.
The small business marketplace, also called SHOP, was supposed to provide employers a new way to shop for coverage, and the delay was met with frustration.
“It’s disappointing that the online portion of the federal small business marketplace through Healthcare.gov will be delayed, and it’s important it get up and running as soon as possible,” said John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority, an advocacy group. “However, it doesn’t change the fact that the marketplace can offer the most competitive combination of price and quality for small businesses purchasing health insurance.”