We’ve sat out covering the many stumbles of the Healthcare.gov website mainly because the problems individuals have experienced trying to buy personal health insurance don’t directly affect employers.
However, with Obama administration officials now stating that Healthcare.gov “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users” “by the end of November,” it seems reasonable to wonder when employers will be able to use it to buy coverage for their employees. The site’s Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) is supposed to be the main government portal to help small employers compare and purchase group health coverage.
The SHOP rollout was already delayed once until Nov. 1, a month beyond its scheduled debut. Now, several pages within Healthcare.gov reference “mid-November” SHOP availability.
At press time, the administration hadn’t specifically addressed whether SHOPs will be further delayed. However, some of the 18 states that run their own insurance exchanges have already announced they’re not ready to sell policies to small employers. For example, Maryland has decided to wait until Jan. 1 to open its SHOP.