Barack Obama

Obama, flanked by new registrants and small business owners speaking about the Affordable Care Act at the White House in October (Photograph by Doug Mills/The New York Times via Redux)


By John Tozzi November 27, 2013

The piece of meant for small businesses won’t work for an additional year, the White House admitted today. The administration is sending small businesses to insurance agents and brokers for the next year to buy health insurance.

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), intended to give companies with less than 50 employees an easy way to compare and buy health plans online, has been mired in delays. After initially planning the SHOP launch for Oct. 1, the Obama administration postponed it until November. Last month it set Nov. 30 as its precise deadline. Now the administration says it will be ready by November 2014.

“We’ve concluded that we can best serve small employers by continuing this offline process while we concentrate on both creating a smoothly functioning online experience in the SHOP marketplace,” the administration said, according to an internal document outlining the new enrollment process that was provided to Bloomberg Businessweek. An official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the delay.

The change applies only to the federal health exchange. States that built their own small business marketplaces are unaffected by today’s announcement.

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