HHS Downplays Latest Obamacare Delay


The Obama administration announced another Obamacare delay Thursday — this time for small businesses enrolling for coverage on the law’s online health insurance marketplaces — but administration officials quickly downplayed the practical impact of the news.

The Associated Press reported that small businesses would not be able to enroll for coverage starting Oct. 1, the marketplaces’ launch date. Joanne Peters, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, elaborated to TPM on what that means.

Business owners will still be able to peruse their coverage options online starting Oct. 1, but not buy them. By November, they should be able to purchase the coverage, well before it takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014. HHS is also expanding the small-business call center’s hours to 10 hours a day starting Oct. 1 to handle calls from consumers.

Peters noted that small-business enrollment will be year-round, softening the impact of delayed enrollment. That’s different from the more limited window for enrollment that individuals have. Individuals will be still able to purchase coverage right away on Oct. 1, Peters said, and individual enrollment will end as planned in March 2014.