New exchange designed for small businesses is experiencing turbulence
HealthCare.gov has launched its small business service, offering employers the chance to purchase health insurance plans for their workers through a federal exchange marketplace. This federal exchange was meant to be made available last year, during HealthCare.gov’s first open enrollment period, but its launch was delayed due to concerns over the financial impact mandatory insurance coverage would have on small businesses. The exchange is now available to small businesses, but reports of mild technical problems has made it difficult for some to purchase the health plans they are interested in.
Brokers are reporting problems when using the federal exchange
Insurance brokers are reporting problems when trying to log into their exchange account. Some have also found that they are not listed as insurance professionals in the exchange’s database, which has made it difficult for them to connect with some small businesses. Beyond the technical issues of the exchange, brokers have been reporting a relative lack of interest in the health insurance plans that the exchange offers. Approximately 200,000 visits to the small business exchange have been recorded in the first week of the open enrollment period.
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Small businesses may be disinterested in purchasing insurance coverage through federal exchange
The apparent lack of interest among small businesses may be due to the financial implications of purchasing health insurance policies and confusion concerning the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. According to federal law, businesses with a certain number of full-time employees must offer all their workers access to health insurance coverage. What the law considers to be a full-time employee and what small businesses consider full-time employment often differ, creating some confusion regarding the matter.
Federal agencies continue to promote exchange services
Some federal officials had high hopes for the small business exchange, but few had expected business owners to flock to the exchange looking for coverage. Federal agencies have been working to promote the exchange this year, but their efforts may have had little impact. Currently, there is no information concerning the number of small businesses that have enrolled in the federal exchange.