Some states may continue to make their small-group health insurance exchange programs manual operations until 2017.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will require state-based exchanges to put Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange enrollment systems online for the 2017 plan year, but not for coverage for the rest of 2015, and not for 2016 coverage.
State-based exchanges without working SHOP systems can have groups enroll in SHOP plans directly through insurers, or through agents and brokers.
Officials at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), the arm of CMS in charge of exchange operations, talked about the SHOP enrollment Web system deadline extension in a new set of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Originally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) was going to require exchange programs to have Web-based SHOP enrollment systems ready for the 2014 plan year.
But managers of the state-based exchanges, like managers of the HealthCare.gov exchange network established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), have had troubles with technology and unexpected budget cuts, and many have required small employers to sign up for coverage through paper-based systems.