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Rocky Start to Health Care Enrollment

Millions of America’s small business owners who were eagerly awaiting the opening of the Exchange Marketplace found themselves experiencing a computer system fraught with “time out” delays, broken links, and software bugs. In the end, very few interested individuals have been able to purchase health insurance on the Exchange Marketplace. 

Already the Administration, under Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, has delayed key components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the employer mandate requiring businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide comprehensive health care insurance or face stiff penalties and caps on limits for out-of-pocket expenses.

While significant technology challenges persist, equally damaging to the launch of the health care exchanges are the continued political challenges. The House Republicans forced a government shutdown that coincided with the official launch of the Exchange Marketplace and for almost 15 days they were unwavering in their calls for the ACA to be “de-funded” and/or delayed for one year. 

However, in the end, the government re-opened with no significant hit to the ACA except those created by a still-dysfunctional website portal. Republicans still believe that even after their government shutdown stunt, Americans will demand the repeal of the ever unpopular health care reform bill in the months to come.

Regardless, the issues still remain – access to affordable and comprehensive health care coverage for every American. For the self-employed, the balance of affordable and comprehensive is where the “rubber meets the road,” and the NASE believes there is a lot more work to be done to achieve those twin goals, something we continue to work for daily in our advocacy efforts.

Only time will tell if the Affordable Care Act makes a true difference in the lives of millions of Americans – we hope that with modifications and improvements it will provide a path for securing affordable and comprehensive health care coverage and be one less burden on America’s 22 million smallest businesses.

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