A section of the ObamaCare law has been delayed, leaving small business owners with fewer options for offering health plans to employees until next year.
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On Friday, the Health and Human Services finalized the decision to push back one aspect of the Small Business Health Options Program (also known as SHOP) for one year. Under SHOP, small business owners choosing health-care plans in a federal insurance marketplace are supposed to be able to choose one plan for all of their employees, or let staffers choose between a number of plans.
While small business owners will still be able to select one insurance plan in the SHOP exchanges, the ability to allow staffers at the same company to choose different plans based on their own individual needs will be put off until January 1, 2015.
Reason for the Delay In its decision to delay the SHOP options, the HHS wrote, “We have serious concerns that issuers would not be operationally ready to offer [qualified health plans] through the SHOP if we implemented employee choice for 2014.”
Kevin Kuhlman, the manager of legislative affairs for the National Federation of Independent Business, says the delay is a blow to small businesses who were looking to provide employees with more options.
“Among the concerns listed, there were administration concerns, and most disappointingly, there was the concern that there would be inadequate time to educate employees, employers, agents and brokers on the options,” says Kuhlman. “It’s disappointing from a small business perspective, being used as an excuse – it’s not adequate.”
With one of the major selling points of ObamaCare being lower health-care costs for small businesses, Kuhlman is concerned that delaying employee choice will decrease the number of insurance plans available, creating a less competitive market.
“Businesses who could only offer one policy for years now, and have seen double-digit premium increases for years, want to be able to offer more options at more competitive rates,” he says.
Kuhlman says the decision to delay the employee choice aspect of SHOP affects only businesses in states not running their own insurance exchanges. He adds that these marketplaces are open only to businesses with fewer than 50 employees.