The so-called Obamacare Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) hit a logistical speed bump as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has now revealed that small business owners will only have one health insurance plan option to offer employees starting in 2014 instead of the multiple options that were part of the original plan.

The government apparently underestimated the time and technology it would take to implement the 33 state exchanges and is now proposing 2014 as a transitional year before a full range of plans is offered to the marketplace. It has been hoped that a multiple choice model will reduce costs by creating competition among insurers, attracting more participants and, thereby, leading to more affordable premiums.

The Department of Health and Human Services noted that the 17 states running their own exchanges could choose to delay the implementation of a full menu of insurance plans into 2015 as well. Some state exchanges, however, including California and Connecticut, are not having the same difficulties and have stated they will offer employee choice options beginning 2014.

Under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, businesses with 100 or fewer employees can offer employee insurance coverage through the exchanges. States can limit participation to companies with 50 or fewer employees in 2014 and 2015. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees are eligible for tax credits for up to 24 months of coverage purchased through an exchange. Companies with more than 100 employees will be eligible to participate in exchanges beginning in 2017.

If you’re a small or mid-size business owner with concerns about Obamacare or other issues, call us today to schedule your comprehensive LIFT (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit. Normally, this session is $1,250, but if you mention this article and we still have room on our calendar this month, we will waive that fee.