Online Health Law Sign-Up Is Delayed for Small Business

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from The New York Times,

The Obama administration announced Wednesday a one-year delay in the element of the new health care law that allows small businesses to go online to buy insurance for their employees through the new federal marketplace website.

“We plan to offer online enrollment capability by November 2014, for coverage that takes effect in January 2015,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a series of questions and answers.

The administration had previously delayed online enrollment for small businesses, scheduled to start on Oct. 1, until the end of this month.

This insurance marketplace — known as the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP — was seen as one of the main benefits of the new law.

The announcement of the delay, just before Thanksgiving, is reminiscent of the way the White House announced, just before the Independence Day weekend, a one-year delay in the requirement for larger employers to offer health insurance to employees.

The new delay results, in part, from the well-documented woes of the federal marketplace. Administration officials said they had to focus on repairing the basic functions of the website and were not able to address issues related to the small-business exchange.

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