Once again, small businesses have something to worry about. After having to adjust to the results of the fiscal cliff and deal with changes in tax rates, small businesses now have to deal with a delay in receiving affordable health insurance.  The Obama administration was unable to meet tight deadlines in the new health care law, causing them to delay parts of a program which was intended to provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees.

This health care law which is to start next year calls for a new insurance marketplace, specifically designed for small businesses.  Congress intended to provide small businesses the option to provide workers with a choice of health plans. However, in most states, employers will not be able to offer an option.  Instead, they will be limited to a single plan.  Many big businesses already have access to the choice option, which was to become available to small employers in January.  Administration officials have now announced that this option will be delayed until 2015 in the 33 states where the federal government will be running insurance markets known as exchanges.  New Jersey is one of those states that will be impacted by this delay.

Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana and the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship shared in a New York Times article that the delay will “prolong and exacerbate health care costs that are crippling the 29 million small businesses.”  With the administration citing “operational challenges” as the reason for the delay, most small businesses who buy insurance through an exchange will offer a single health plan to their employees next year. 

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In 2011, the Obama administration told employers that the small business exchange would “enable you to offer your employees a choice of qualified health plans from several insurers, much as large employers can.”  It was also noted that the exchange would “consolidate billing so you can offer workers a choice without the hassle of contracting with multiple insurers.”  With this delay in place, some are noting that the delay will limit the appeal of exchanges to small business. 

This law will make it easier for consumers to take a look at different health plans by defining four standard levels of coverage.  This reflects a stated goal of the 2010 law, which was to increase “consumer choice” and stimulate competition among insurers.  For now, most small businesses will have to wait it out until the choice option becomes available to them. 

 

I would like to thank Caroline Ryder for preparing this article with me.  Caroline is a Marketing Analyst with C2G Resourcing, a subsidiary of Consultants 2 Go, LLC.  Don’t forget, you can email me at Peggy@Consultants2Go.com with any questions you might have and I’ll be glad to answer them.  You can also follow me and my business on Twitter @peggymchale and @consultants2go