Obamacare small business online sign-up delayed

Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
Yahoo News
Julian Gomez explains Obamacare to people at a health insurance enrolment event in Commerce
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Julian Gomez (R) explains Obamacare to people at a health insurance enrolment event in Commerce, California March 31, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama's embattled U.S. healthcare law, having survived a rollout marred by technology failures, reaches a milestone on Monday with the end of its first enrolment wave, and with the administration likely to come close to its goal of signing up 7 million people in private health insurance. More than 1 million people have signed up for Obamacare in California, according to the Los Angeles Times. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

In another bit of bad news for Americans seeking coverage under Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s administration on Tuesday announced a yearlong delay of online sign-ups for some small businesses seeking coverage for their employees under his signature health care law.

The delay, which runs through 2014, affects employers who would have gone through the badly troubled HealthCare.gov web site because they operate in states where the federal government runs health insurance marketplaces known as exchanges, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The announcement, unveiled with millions of Americans on the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, came just days before the administration’s self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline for making sure that the website works for “the vast majority” of those trying to use it.

“For 2014, small employers will use ‘direct enrollment’ rather than HealthCare.gov in states where the federal government is running the Marketplace,” the HHS official said on condition of anonymity. “This means they will enroll their employees in coverage through an agent, broker, or insurer that offers a certified SHOP plan, the same way most businesses get coverage today. This allows small employers to sign up for coverage through offline enrollment while CMS works on creating a smoothly functioning online experience in the SHOP Marketplace.”

SHOP refers to the Small Business Health Options Program, which has seen its online enrollment pushed back before. Politico first reported the news.

Republicans pounced.

 “With each passing day, it’s clear how much worse ObamaCare is than a website full of glitches," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. "It’s time we stop delaying pieces of ObamaCare and instead scrap it and start over with common sense reforms."

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