The Obama administration has opened a new health-insurance portal to small businesses in five states after a yearlong delay of the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace for small-employer health plans.
The exchange, which was shelved last year amid mounting technical problems, quietly went live for the first time over the weekend in Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and Ohio. Companies in those states that have fewer than 50 full-time workers can start using the site now to buy insurance for workers for 2015. The test is part of a soft launch before the small business exchange rolls out for most of the rest of the country Nov. 15.
Employers are able to create accounts, complete their applications to obtain coverage through the site and upload a roster of employees to be covered. However, employers will not be able to browse plans and pricing unil the sile fully opens for all states on November 15.
SHOP has undergone a series of delays during the rollout of the healthcare law, including a decision to allow 18 states to temporarily forgo a feature allowing employees to choose among a variety of plans.