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Feds to Small Businesses: Use Agents and Brokers for Health Insurance

Just before Thanksgiving, the Obama Administration announced that small businesses won’t be able to use the federal government’s health insurance website to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act for their employees until November 2014 in most states...
December 6, 2013

Just before Thanksgiving, the Obama Administration announced that small businesses won’t be able to use the federal government’s health insurance website to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for their employees until November 2014 in most states.

Businesses will still be able to shop for plans at the federal website, healthcare.gov, beginning in December 2013 – they just won’t be able to sign up their employees using the beleaguered national website.

Instead, Federal officials say small businesses can use agents and brokers, or enroll directly with insurers. “The particular mechanism we have outlined today in many cases is very familiar to the small business community and is something that will work for them,” said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), noting that many small businesses already rely on agents and brokers for insurance.

The change applies to the 36 states where the federal government is running insurance exchanges.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has posted a primer for small businesses interested in providing health insurance to their employees through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). It includes information on how to work with your agent or broker to access the program now.

Of note: SHOP will provide many small businesses access to an expanded Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, which, in tax years beginning in 2014, will be worth up to 50 percent of employer-paid premium costs, to help them afford coverage for their employees and dependents.

What It Means to Agents: PIA supports this delay in online enrollment for federally-facilitated small group plans, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). From a practical standpoint, the delay provides agents and brokers in states with exchanges run by the federal government with a significant, additional unfettered opportunity to be the preferred source for enrollment in small group plans.

PIA National is working with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to schedule member webinars on this topic. Back to Top

Related: Recent PIA National press releases on using an agent/broker:

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