NASE in the News

Stay tuned! Check out our latest videos, television appearances and podcasts.

State's small businesses use Obamacare (Orange County Register)

Covered California, the state-run health insurance exchange, said it has launched online self-enrollment for small businesses. But the federal government announced Wednesday thathealthcare .gov, the exchange it runs for 36 other states, will delay that capability for one year.

Peter Lee, executive director of California's exchange, will officially unveil the new small business enrollment function at a news conference in Los Angeles on Monday.

Since California's exchange opened for business Oct. 1, small businesses – meaning those with fewer than 50 full-time employees – have been able to set up accounts, verify their eligibility for purchasing through the exchange and get estimated rates. But, as Covered California had announced earlier in the year, full online enrollment for small employers was not available on opening day.

The federal exchange had previously postponed online enrollment for small companies until the end of this month.

But the widely known problems that have plagued its website in the first two months of operation led administration officials to conclude that they had to fix more basic functions before they could address the kinks related to the small business exchange.

The new plan is to offer federal online small business enrollment by November 2014, for coverage taking effect Jan. 1, 2015. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said employers seeking to insure their workers can still go to the federal website to view plans and prices, then submit paper applications with the help of an insurance agent or directly through the insurance companies they have selected.

The inclusion of small businesses in the exchanges is considered a major benefit of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

That allows small employers to provide a range of health care options to their employees without having to negotiate separately with multiple insurance companies or administer multiple plans. In addition, companies with fewer than 25 employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000 can get tax credits covering as much as half of the employee insurance costs.

Some feared that delaying the enrollment could complicate the process of determining eligibility for the tax credit.

HHS said small companies will no longer have to apply for certification before enrolling in an insurance plan, Modern Healthcare magazine reported. Because that application was intended for the purpose of determining tax credits, businesses can file it any time before they file their taxes.

Obamacare critics characterized the delay as another blow to a troubled health reform law.

“The Obama administration continues to make it incredibly difficult for small businesses to adequately plan and prepare when they continue to move the goalpost,” said Katie Vlietstra, director of government affairs at the National Association for the Self-Employed.

The Main Street Alliance, a small business group that has been supportive of the law, said it was “pleased that small business owners can begin to apply for coverage and receive expanded health care tax credits by applying directly with a broker or insurer.”

The New York Times contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 714-796-2440 or

See the article online here

The Latest News from the NASE

Our RSS feed service allows you to retrieve instant updates from the NASE website. est articles, news, and other helpful information, all delivered directly to you!

Courtesy of's-small-businesses-use-obamacare-(orange-county-register)