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CMS Postpones SHOP Online Enrollment Until 2015 Plan Year

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On Nov. 27, CMS announced a yearlong delay of online enrollment for small business employers seeking health insurance through the federally-facilitated small business health options program (FF-SHOP).

For 2014, small employers can still enroll their employees in coverage through an agent, broker or insurer that offers a certified SHOP plan and has agreed to conduct enrollment according to HHS standards.

Small employers also will no longer need to use the FF-SHOP portal to be eligible for the small employer tax credit for 2014. Instead, employers can purchase a QHP directly from an insurer, and submit an application to the FF-SHOP to determine eligibility for the tax credit.

The delay in online enrollment further complicates the registration process for employers wishing to offer 2014 health insurance coverage through the FF-SHOP. Employers seeking Jan. 1 effective coverage, particularly those who waited for the online enrollment capabilities to go live in late November, will need to quickly seek the assistance of agents, brokers or issuers to complete and submit applications within the next few weeks. Many stakeholders, particularly plans, had urged the Administration to delay the launch of the FF-SHOP until the individual exchange portal was working properly.

The delay of enrollment through the FF-SHOP web portal should not meaningfully impact anticipated enrollment in 2014. Over the coming months, CMS will improve the existing FF-SHOP portal to facilitate a smoother enrollment process next fall for the 2015 benefit year for employers and employees.

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