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

Contango

Talking about the above "gliches."

I think that Daniel Henninger of the WSJ made an EXCELLENT point:

"But ObamaCare's Achilles' heel is technology. The software glitches are going to drive people insane.

Creating really large software for institutions is hard. Creating big software that can communicate across unrelated institutions is unimaginably hard.

ObamaCare's software has to communicate—accurately—across a mind-boggling array of institutions: HHS, the IRS, Medicare, the state-run exchanges, and a whole galaxy of private insurers' and employers' software systems."

Reads like the wonky technology-worshiping Progressives may have met their Waterloo.

The Progressives naively believe that they can succeed in a centrally planned society whereas the Soviet Russians failed.

Unfortunately for America, they ain't even as smart.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB...

coasterfan

Given the choice of having no health insurance, or having to put up with expected short term technology issues, I'm guessing that most people would choose to have health insurance...

Contango's comment displays the basic difference between Progressives and Conservatives. Conservatives main talent is to provide reasons why something won't work. Progressives provide reasons why it just might work, and then ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING to help it to happen. It's not an accident that "progress" is the root word for "Progressive".

4shizzle

Well said.

Contango

Re: "Progressives provide reasons why it just might work,"

And ONLY by stealing other people's money.

It ALL comes down to money and economics.

Even socialist pipedreams ultimately succumb to market forces.

Again: Since your health and welfare benefits are GUARANTEED by OH taxpayers, you have little-to-no credibility on this issue.

Contango

Re: "It's not an accident that 'progress' is the root word for 'Progressive'."

No, it's called "Soviet word magic." Change the name and you change the meaning - pure propaganda.

Early American Progressives knew that they were socialists, why don't you?

bondgirlM

What a MESS. But then we knew it would be. Can anyone explain why they waited until 5 days before this goes into affect before they tell us the premium costs? As for the picture...a face only a mother could love.

There you go again

It's just one thing after another. Tell me again, Mr. Obama, why this is a good thing for America!

Lil DAB

Is there a teleprompter for that? And he will never know since he will not be utilizing the same health programs being forced on us!

The Big Dog's back

Actually it's a good thing the ACA is taking effect soon, because you right wingnuts need all the help you can get.

Darwin's choice

Already signed up, eh Big Dog? And yet another worthless post, attacking not adding anything! Maybe obamacare will come up with something to keep you from licking your but, however, the taste of Obama won't go away.

And, that is a great photo !!! What, me worry? Alfred Obama...

Pete

Wait till CluelessCare ruins his Burger Flippers Local 6-7/8 insurance plan.

I for one will crack a very nice vintage dry red and make a toast.

dontknowmuch

+1 for that one Darwin

coasterfan

Meh, I don't judge presidents on how they look. I'd much rather judge them on their smarts, and in that category, I'll take Obama any day. The guy is a former Congressional Law professor whose IQ must be at least 50 points higher than his semi-literate predecessor in the White House.

SamAdams

Do you know what having a high IQ means? It means you did really well on a test once. It DOESN'T mean you've got any common sense. It DOESN'T mean you can be bothered to learn from your mistakes. It DOESN'T mean you're a hard worker or a nice guy. It means ONLY that you did really well on a test once.

As for Obama, you don't mean he was a Congressional Law professor. You mean he likes to CLAIM he was a Constitutional Law professor (and he wasn't — the school where he taught has confirmed that). And apparently his much-vaunted high IQ hasn't done him much good even in THAT regard since he seems to know very little about the Constitution!

Contango

Re: "Congressional Law professor,"

And 'strangely' he never produced ONE scholarly paper on the subject, unlike the majority would in his field.

His Columbia thesis, "Aristocracy Reborn" is sealed.

H*ll, my profs often directed their students to go to the Reserve Section of the library in order to read their writings.

Contango

Re: "IQ must be at least 50 points,"

He's sealed his college records - we don't know.

Of the most recent presidents, Pres. Carter had the highest IQ.

He was trounced in 1980.

Contango

Re: "it's a good thing the ACA is taking effect soon,"

So your health care benefits are provided how?

dontknowmuch

Waivers...delays... glitches... government inefficiency at its best. This is turning into a real cluster---!

coasterfan

Or.....we could all do the sensible thing: don't judge it until it's been fully implemented. The same conservative naysayers, of course, predicted that Social Security would be a failure in the 1930's, predicted that Medicare would be a failure 30 years later.

There's a pattern here: if it's something new/good that changes the lives of millions of Americans for the better, you can probably bet that #1: a conservative didn't think of it, and #2: conservatives will fight it tooth and nail.

Darwin's choice

"We have to pass it to see what's in it"

You can sit and wait until "it's been fully implemented", however, I'm glad that someone is looking out for the people, who have very serious concerns for this headache of a law!

You have been spoon fed Obama-aid to the point of, with your education, you don't even have a question how and who is paying? You've hit a new low....

Lil DAB

re pattern here: if it involves something for nothing aka handouts, you can bet that #1: a liberal thought of it and #2: a liberal will fight for it tooth and nail. ♛

Contango

Re: "Social Security would be a failure in the 1930's, predicted that Medicare would be a failure 30 years later."

Medicare (1965) "30 years later"???

If you can't do that one in your head, get out a calculator.

The greatest cross-generational stealing of wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy in the history of the world you call a SUCCESS?

The youth of today can no longer afford the largess for seniors - Progressive Ponzi schemes are fiscally imploding.

4shizzle

correct, coasterfan

2cents

Remember low or no income people are one of the groups that are exempt under ACA, therefor it is very AFFORDABLE for them and since there are 40 plus% of Americans on some form of assistance it is very likely that the people who are working and their employers will be picking up the tab again! It is just another form of welfare that the dwindling middle class will pay for. The top 1% could care less because they will have the care they want anyway.

grandmasgirl

2cents:
agree!

deertracker

Like any other major program implementation, there's going to be glitches. Some of you are so determined to see the law fail that you won't even consider giving it a chance. If we can help the fat cats on Wall St. we can offer help to the little guy on Main St. If the cons put as much effort into creating jobs as they do trying to destroy Obamacare, they just might win a national election one day. All of you nay sayers need to give it a rest. It's the law. Deal with it.

Contango

Re: "It's the law. Deal with it."

And laws can be changed.

So your health care benefits are provided how?

deertracker

Correct, you can change laws but it ain't gonna happen. Do you people think if you whine and moan and pout long enough the law will magically change? It's the law pooh. Deal with it! SCOTUS has upheld this law so move on!

Contango

Re: "Correct,"

Do you not understand the question?

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

Contango

You DO realize that the idea of the modern State providing health and welfare benefits to it's citizens began with Prussian autocrat Otto von Bismarck don't you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ott...

Only brain-dead Progressives could naively believe that they could create a centrally planned command and controlled "kinder-gentler" form of socio-economic oppression.

FORWARD SOVIET!

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