Health law online sign-up delayed for small firms

Glitch will prevent sign-up until November; employees will be covered by Jan. 1
Associated Press
Sep 26, 2013

Days before the debut of new online insurance markets, a couple of last-minute technical glitches with President Barack Obama's health care law are making supporters anxious and giving opponents a new line of attack.

The administration said Thursday that small business owners who want to use insurance markets designed especially for them will have to wait until sometime in November before they can finish their sign-ups. They still can start shopping right away on Oct. 1. And even with the delay, they can get coverage for their employees by Jan. 1, when the law takes full effect.

In a potentially more significant delay affecting the law's larger insurance market for individuals, the administration quietly told Hispanic groups on Wednesday that the Spanish-language version of the healthcare.gov website will not be ready to handle online enrollments for a few weeks. An estimated 10 million Latinos are eligible for coverage, and 4 million of them speak Spanish primarily.

"It's been at least two years since we've known that Latinos are a primary target for enrollment through the Affordable Care Act, so we would have hoped that the administration would have the rollout ready on Day 1," said Jennifer Ng'andu, health care policy director for the National Council of La Raza. That said, she added that her group won't object if it takes a few more weeks to get things right.

Meanwhile, a politically powerful small business lobby that unsuccessfully sued to overturn "Obamacare" said the enrollment delay for employers strengthens the case for hitting pause on the entire law, one of the strategies now being pursued by congressional Republicans.

"Every step in the implementation process has seen delays and setbacks," Kevin Kuhlman, a top official of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement. "This is starting to seem like a parody; unfortunately, it is extremely serious."

New state insurance markets for individuals who don't have coverage on the job, and separate ones for small businesses with up to 100 workers, are a key part of Obama's health care overhaul.

Scheduled to open Oct. 1 — next Tuesday — the markets are supposed to offer a consumer-friendly way to buy health insurance while forcing insurers to compete for business. Consumers can apply online, through a call center, in person, or through the mail.

The markets for individual consumers — called exchanges in some states — will offer tax credits to make premiums more affordable. Tax credits are also available for some businesses, generally smaller firms employing low-wage workers.

Largely because of Republican opposition to the law, the federal government had to take the lead in setting up markets in 36 states — a development unforeseen when the law was passed. The delays announced this week affect the federal markets, and some states running their own may have full small business enrollment and Spanish-language capabilities.

Gary Cohen, the Health and Human Services department official overseeing the rollout, said small business owners in states with federally-run markets will still be able to go online Oct. 1 and compare their health insurance options.

They can get the process going by filling out a form that will have to be transmitted separately by mail, fax, or as an email attachment. HHS will upload the information into the government's computer systems. The businesses will have to wait until sometime in November to finalize their applications.

"We wanted to make sure this was going to work properly and be effective for small businesses," Cohen said in an interview. "We just felt like taking the additional time to make sure everything was functioning the way we wanted was the right thing to do."

Under the law, most small businesses do not have to provide coverage. But firms with 50 or more employees face a mandate to offer insurance or risk fines from the government.

That coverage mandate was supposed to take effect Jan. 1, but the administration caused a stir this summer by unexpectedly delaying it a year to address employer complaints.

Delays and pared-back expectations are a standard feature of big technology rollouts. But the Obama administration has tried to project an image of efficiency and confidence.

A small business group supporting the health care law says it's disappointed.

"They have a gargantuan task, and like any other technical effort, they didn't quite hit their deadline," said John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority. "The concern we have is that every time there is a bump in the road that it not be perceived as 'the system is not going to work.'"

Cohen, the HHS official, said no further delays are anticipated. "The individual market will open on time Oct. 1 with full online enrollment and plan shopping," he said.

Comments

deertracker

Move to Russia pooh! See ya!

Contango

Re: "Move to Russia,"

Not to worry, under the wrongheaded guidance of the socialists (Progressives), the USSR along with other authoritarian dystopias are forming here.

Darwin's choice

Deertracker, see that look on Obama's photo?

Thats his reaction to learning that you, Big Dog, Coassterfan, and 4shizzle need some relief from the massive insurance increases you've just received! 5 or 6 times the amount you were expecting to pay.

How do you like him now?

hahahahahahaha!!!!

The Big Dog's back

My insurance went down.

2cents

Exactly, we all want affordable everything, at lease the basics in life! I do not feel that big brother is the answer for our republic.

The New World Czar

Gee, the Community Organizer-in-Chief has to go on the road to promote...again.

Please pay attention to the last four letters:
American
Republican
Democrats

2cents

LMAO : )

TGIF, as if that means anything to one self employed.

hilltop

The "gubment" does such a fine job managing the business of the people. Imagine what a great job they can do with healthcare.

Obummer Care - Pain for the masses (except, of course our leaders, they get to keep what they have . . . .)

Centauri

Since the Democrats continue to stalk me online with their troll and flamer habits, I will post more comments and links against Obama and Obamacare.

http://redalertpolitics.com/2013...
"8 reasons Obama should be covered under Obamacare, as told by Obama himself"

http://www.ammoland.com/wp-conte...

Contango

Wait until hundreds of thousands lose their jobs due to the next economic recession caused by a financial crisis and can't afford to pay the "affordable" health insurance exchange premiums

The govt. through the Federal Reserve will have to provide trillions of dollars in subsidies.

This Obama☭are boondoggle has "major cluster (bleep)" written all over it.

"Blackstone: We're in an 'epic credit bubble'":

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101067072

All we essentially did was "paper over" the '07-'08 financial crisis.

The Big Dog's back

pooh, do you ever get tired of crying wolf?

Contango

Re: "crying wolf?"

Yea, there will NEVER be another financial crisis. LMAO!!!!

So instead of trash talk, answer the question:

Second request: So your health care benefits are provided how?

The New World Czar

Did anyone see Neil Cavuto's rebuttal? Priceless!

http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/0...

Contango

@ TNWZ:

Excellent! Thanks.

Enjoyed seeing Pres. Obama pick his nose. The guy has 'such' class. :)

Dr. Information

The question that liberals wont answer is how are people that cannot afford insurance because they live paycheck to paycheck, now supposed to come up with more cash to afford health insurance that might be a little bit less expensive? When it comes to taking care of yourself and your family, everyday bills and food, healthcare will take a back seat once again.

Again, how are those that sit currently without insurance that live paycheck to paycheck, suppose to pay for insurance?

Estimates show that of the 40 million uninsured, only 10-12 million will get insurance. So we upend all of America, cut the work week for the minority again. Makes no sense.

Dont worry though, Nanci Pelosi says with that extra time you have off of work, you can now pursue you dreams and happiness. What a freaking moron she is.

Some parts of Obamacare need to be clarified, she acknowledged, but losing that 40-hour work week will really free Americans to “pursue your happiness … follow your passion.”

“Overwhelmingly, for the American people, this is a liberation,” the San Francisco millionaire said dreamily, possibly confusing “the American people” who have to make a living with her fellow guests at George Soros’s wedding Saturday in New York.

http://www.bizpacreview.com/2013...

registerer

Dr Info you are correct! Even though one may receive a subsidy to pay for their insurance does not mean that the person can still afford to pay their portion of the premium.

SamAdams

The lowest end plan you can get in Ohio averages almost $300 per month (for an individual, non-smoker; smokers will be 50% higher, minimum). Under that plan, you are responsible for a full 40% of any medical expenses AND there are no subsidies under the so-called "bronze" plan. You must have the "silver" plan in order to get any subsidy, and you're STILL going to have to pay 30% on top of your premiums with NO OUT-OF-POCKET MAXIMUM next year (because that's one of the unfixed "glitches" — or it's yet another facet of Obamacare that's been "delayed" by Obama).

Don't forget, either, that another one of the "glitches" is that the application process isn't secure. Seems the government can't quite figure out how to keep the most private of our information safe. Imagine that!

The premium information above, by the way, is from WebMD which has a by-the-state reference set up under dot gov auspices to answer questions for people.

Contango

Re: "Seems the government can't quite figure out how to keep the most private of our information safe."

Hackers and identity thieves:

On your mark, get ready, get set... GO!

"Hacked Data Brokers Could Spell Trouble for Obamacare":

http://www.nextgov.com/health/20...

Darwin's choice

Coasterfan, Big Dog, Deertracker, 4shizzle: Here's what you've been cheerleading for....I hope you are one of the lucky ones....

http://news.investors.com/politi...

Obama fail, again....sorry,still failing!!

Bleeding Turnips

Obamacare is already working great, my wife receives $632 per month in disability. Just received a letter that her medicare premium is going from $36 a month to $70 and her deductible is being raised from $300 to $1,000 per year. Yep, only going after the rich, $7,584 per year is the "new rich."

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