SHOP exchanges, which allow small businesses to purchase insurance plans for their employees under the Affordable Care Act, have shared many difficulties with the main site at Healthcare.gov during deployment. Obamacare exchanges have been more successful at the state level, but lower turnout is expected from businesses than private citizens. This is in part due to the technical problems that continue to plague the Obamacare exchanges as well as fewer plan options for owners of smaller companies.
Technical glitches at Healthcare.gov made it hard for private individuals to purchase plans from the federal site. The number and extent of the deployment issues forced the government to accept that business owners and managers will be unable to purchase insurance plans through the main federal Obamacare exchanges. These glitches include improper transfer of information from the federal site to insurance issuers as well as random timeouts and bandwidth issues that have plagued Healthcare.gov since launch. The government has announced a focus on solving these issues, but time is short for those hoping to enroll during this year.
Small business owners have also noted a much smaller list of available plans and options as one of the biggest issues they face when choosing health insurance plans allowed under the Affordable Care Act. The Obamacare exchanges often offer far fewer options than those available from private issuers. This may be due to the inability for both small business and private users to customize available plans. Many insurance companies have base packages for businesses with multiple customizable options to suit their needs, but these customization offerings are not available through Obamacare exchanges.
Owners of small businesses are considering if it is possible, or even legal, to allow employees who are high-risk individuals to obtain coverage under the Affordable Care Act plans while they strike private deals with insurance companies for their healthier employees. This could place a difficult burden on insurance issuers that are required to accept high-risk individuals, and it is currently unclear if businesses attempting this would run afoul of the law. Predictions of doom regarding the fate of the exchanges may be premature, but many business owners are struggling to find the right mix of costs and benefits with the offerings available through state exchanges.
Technical issues, few options, and murky legal territory continue to cause confusion for both individuals and business owners looking at Affordable Care Plan options. Possible mishandling or transfer issues surrounding private information shared with plan creators and the bandwidth and timeout errors currently facing Healthcare.gov are only adding to the issue. Company leaders have a limited amount of time to make important decisions regarding their current and potential future health insurance options. Business owners have until the 15th of March to enroll before losing access to plans available on state Obamacare exchanges. The next enrollment period following this deadline begins in October.
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