Health Care Exchanges Go Live, SHOPs Delayed

October 9, 2013

pic-health-computerWith just over one week following the official opening date (Oct. 1, 2013) for the exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) reports of ongoing delays and technical issues continue to surround the federal exchange which is being operated in 30 states. The problems being reported are fewer in most states which have established their own exchange.

The individual mandate portion of the law will become effective Jan. 1, 2014 giving currently uninsured individuals the next few months to either purchase a health insurance plan or opt to pay the penalty.

While the business mandate for companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance was officially delayed until 2015, small businesses still have the option of signing up their firms under the Small Business Health Options Programs (SHOPs). However, just prior to the opening of the exchanges on Oct. 1, the administration announced a delay to the SHOPs by one month. Small firms looking to sign up their businesses can start their applications now, but won’t be able to formally sign up on-line until November.

The delay in the SHOPs isn’t expected to cause a major problem for small businesses, however, because enrollment in the SHOPs is open year-round whereas the enrollment period for individuals is limited.

According to recent data from NSBA, the cost of health insurance is the number three top challenge facing small businesses today, just behind decline in customer spending and economic uncertainty. Unfortunately, a great deal of uncertainty still surrounds PPACA 80 percent of small firms reporting a limited or no understanding of how the law will impact their business.

When it comes to the small-business tax credits, which beginning in 2014 are only applicable to firms purchasing insurance through the SHOPs, 38 percent are not sure if they qualify and just 22 percent say the credit will provide their business any assistance at all.

For more information on the federal exchange, or to find your state exchange, please click here.