By Mary Ellen Schill
May 20, 2014
Last week I had the pleasure of talking Affordable Choice Act with human resource and benefits professionals in Madison and Wausau. From some of the questions I was fielding it was clear that there were some out there who doubted whether the federally facilitated exchanges will be operational by October 1, as required by the ACA. Wisconsin is one of 33 states where the federal government is operating all or part of the exchange (now referred to as the Marketplace). During our discussions I speculated that the decision to postpone implementation of the Marketplace would probably be made sooner rather than later, as I didn’t think a decision later in the year (even if it delayed the Marketplace) would be helpful to anyone.
I’m sure it was just a coincidence, but last Friday Kathleen Sibelius, HHS secretary, told the House Ways and Means Committee that the federal exchanges will be ready and open for business by October 1. She also stated that there was no need for HHS to have a backup plan, because the October 1 deadline will be met.
From my experience the Marketplace is getting more and more interest from employers with less than 100 employees. Since the passage of the ACA most of the discussion of the Marketplace has revolved around individual use. Recent guidance on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) (see my earlier blog post) has made businesses and their advisors more aware of the ability of employers to take their full-time employees and SHOP the Marketplace.
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