Online signup for small business health insurance coverage under the U.S. Affordable Care Act has been delayed by one month. However, paper applications mailed or faxed in, or phone sign-up, will be available by the October 1st deadline, reports the Washington Post.
The Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP), through which small businesses with 50 or fewer employees can sign up to provide healthcare coverage options for employees, is expected to open up for enrollment October 1, 2013.
The official announcement from the U.S. Department of Health is confusing at best. Government officials have objected to the characterization of the later signup date as a “delay.”
One way to look at this online signup date change is that by itself it’s not a huge matter. But some observers say the various sliding dates, even a one-month delay such as this, are a signal that the Affordable Care Act is just not ready for prime time.
“Every step in the implementation process has seen delays and setbacks; we are certainly not surprised by this one. But with this latest glitch in the small-business exchanges, the case for a delay of the individual mandate alongside the employer mandate only grows stronger,” said Kevin Kuhlman. Kuhlman is the manager of legislative affairs for the National Federation of Independent Business.
“Small-business owners should not be forced to comply with a law that is clearly not ready for prime-time. This is starting to seem like a parody; unfortunately, it is extremely serious,” Kuhlman added.
Individuals still will be required to buy health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014 or face fines.
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be able to receive tax credits for providing healthcare that can help cover premiums.
Read more information about SHOP exchanges affecting small businesses with 50 or fewer employees – and those who work for them.