The Obamacare online sign-up portal for small business has been put on hold until after the November 2014 Congressional election.
Earlier this week, the White House pushed back the Obamacare 2014 open enrollment period to November 15, which is also after the November midterm election. Originally, it was supposed to start on October 15.
Whether enrollment occurs before or after November 2014, millions of Americans with employer-provided insurance at businesses large and small will face big changes in their coverage, which will likely include sharply higher premiums, increased deductibles, and the possibility of being locked-out of their existing provider network. Some employers may have drop health insurance as an employee benefit entirely, forcing their workers to obtain coverage in an exchange.
About five million consumers who buy insurance on the individual market have already been booted off their plans because the coverage doesn’t comply with Obamacare regulations. Complicating matters for replacement-insurance seekers, actually accessing the Healthcare.gov exchange is still problematic. The Obama administration previously postponed the employer mandate until 2015.
Reporting on this latest delay, the Washington Post explained:
“The Small Business Health Options Program, known as the SHOP exchange, will not offer online enrollment until November 2014, a one-year delay from a launch that was initially planned for this past October… Small businesses will still have the option to purchase SHOP health insurance plans through a broker or agent, who will assist the employer with filing a paper application.”
This latest delay does not affect small businesses (i.e., those with less than 50 employees) in those states that have own online exchanges rather than relying on the troubled federal Obamacare web portal.
With regard to the latest development for the Affordable Care Act, Politico noted:
“The delay of the small business exchanges comes as little surprise, as the administration had said earlier this week it would offer alternative ways for small businesses to enroll. Still, it undercuts the White House message that it’s beginning to turn around the disastrous rollout of the health care law.”
In what has developed into a major, ongoing controversy, President Obama repeatedly declared “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” when he was selling healthcare reform via the Affordable Care Act to the American people.
Many observers believe politics are transparently at the heart of the postponed enrollment.
As The Daily Caller observed:
“Such a delay could be a purposefully timed political strategy aimed at appeasing congressional Democrats facing re-election in 2014. Those that have supported the law before, during, and after its passage have been facing tough questions in their home states recently about unrealistic deadlines, information hiccups, cancelled policies, privacy concerns and general inability to sign up since the fully-fumbled rollout of the law’s major components.”
Of this latest Obamacare delay, House Speaker John Boehner said:
“The president bit off more than he can chew with this health care law, and small businesses are now forced to bear the consequences.”
Separately, it has been reported that a so-called nonpartisan organization called Families USA received a $1 million grant to collect and then funnel positive stories about Obamacare into the media. According to CapitolCityProject.com, “the organization is a far cry from ‘non-partisan’ and is extremely close to the Obama Administration and Enroll America — the group leading the efforts to sign people up for Obamacare.”