The White House will hold off on launching its online health exchange where small businesses can shop for coverage until November 2014, an HHS official confirmed Wednesday.
According to a Washington Post report, small businesses will still have the option to purchase coverage through the new marketplace but will not be able to do so online. Instead, until the launch of the online Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) next fall employers with fewer than 50 workers will need to work through a broker or agent to buy health plans for their employees.
John O'Connor, owner of Shade Tree Garage, a Morristown auto repair shop that provides health insurance to its seven employees, told NJBIZ he was leaning against using SHOP anyway. Because the online exchange provides tax breaks and other incentives to join, O'Connor worries the private market for providing health insurance to small business will shrink because insurers can't compete with government-run exchange.
"I don't like the concept of it," O'Connor said. "The way they have it arranged with enticements, tax deductions and discounts. It's going to collapse the small business market for insurance companies. If you don't like (the exchanges) it's going to be hard to get out of it."
O'Connor says the delay is the latest evidence of a poorly administered plan.
"This is an example of somebody determined to do something even if it starts out badly," O'Connor said. "Philosophically, they're hellbent on getting it done."