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SHOP exchange for small businesses delayed for one year

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The Obama administration is delaying the launch of the small business insurance marketplace until Nov. 2014, White House officials said Wednesday.  

The reason is simple: Rescuing the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate has kept programmers so busy fixing the online enrollment problems on Heatlhcare.gov that there hasn't been enough time to prepare for online enrollment on the small business exchange, known as the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. 

The delay applies only to the federal SHOP exchange, not to state-run small business exchanges, The new launch date for SHOP will be in Nov. 14, a full year from now, according to the Washington Post. 

Meanwhile, small businesses can purchase SHOP health plans through insurance agents or brokers using paper applications, a boon for the professionals writing the new business, and not so different from what businesses do now. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees need to apply through an agent or broker to receive the tax credit, which could offset 50 percent of their employees' premiums, WaPo reports. 

In the future, online marketplaces would allow businesses as well as individuals to compare plans more easily. But they have to work first. Read more.  

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