HHS Delays Small Business Health Options Program One Year


The U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS)  announced that online enrollment for small businesses in the federally-facilitated Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace will be delayed one year until November 2014.

Included in the Affordable Care Act, the SHOP Marketplace is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in 2014. All SHOPs will be open to employers with up to 100 FTEs beginning in 2016.

According to HHS, in the federally-facilitated SHOP Marketplace for 2014, small employers will use “direct enrollment” where an agent, broker, or insurer that offers a certified SHOP plan and has agreed to conduct enrollment according to HHS standards will enroll the employees, and the SHOP Marketplace will review your application and determine later whether the business and employees are eligible for SHOP coverage.

HHS also states that an agent, broker, or insurer can help a small employer fill out a paper application and send it in to the SHOP Marketplace, or the small employer can mail the application in itself. The SHOP Marketplace will notify the small employer about eligibility by phone or e-mail and by regular mail if requested.  will have no effect on the process for getting SHOP coverage.

In order for SHOP coverage to begin on January 1, 2014, the current deadline is December 15.  In the federally-facilitated SHOP, HHS intends to extend the enrollment deadline to December 23, according to HHS. Find more information about the SHOP Marketplace here.