Most attention in the Obamacare rollout has been on the individual mandate to buy insurance from an approved “exchange.” But small businesses, those with 50 or fewer employees, have an exchange of their own that they can buy from. But that part of the HealthCare.gov website isn’t working either. So the administration is delaying that part of Obamacare for a year.
Small businesses won’t be able to use the federal government’s health-insurance website until November 2014 in most U.S. states, the latest delay for the Obama administration’s health-care system overhaul.
Businesses can use brokers or enroll directly with insurers in the meantime, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on a conference call today. The change applies to 36 states where the federal government is running insurance exchanges.
President Barack Obama has been seeking to give consumers and insurers more time to adapt to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as this year’s rollout was beset by missed deadlines, technology outages and public confusion. The National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small companies, said the latest delay isn’t building confidence.
“Small businesses continue to be low on the priority list during the Obamacare implementation process,” said Kevin Kuhlman, manager of legislative affairs for the Nashville, Tennessee-based trade group. “The failure to get the small business exchanges online adds yet another onerous paperwork requirement for job creators.”
The exchanges for small businesses, available for companies with 50 or fewer full-time workers, had already been delayed from a scheduled Oct. 1, 2013, start. Republicans seized on today’s announcement as more evidence that the Obama administration had been unable to meet its own timetable for the president’s signature domestic policy initiative.