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Another Obamacare delay, this time for small business

A health care reform specialist helps people select insurance plans at the free Affordable Care Act (ACA) Enrollment Fair at Pasadena City College on November 19, 2013 in Pasadena, California. The event, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters, offers one-on-one sessions with insurance experts certified by Covered California to help people enroll for healthcare coverage under the ACA.

The Obama adminstration has delayed yet another element of the Affordable Care Act health care law. The White House says that an online marketplace for small businesses to buy coverage, called Small Business Health Options Program or SHOP exchanges, will be delayed until next November.

Marketplace's Lizzie O'Leary asked our health care reporter Dan Gorenstein to answer some questions about Obamacare so that we all have something to say when our Thanksgiving dinner conversation turns to the topic.

Q. Who does this rule apply to?

A. Small businesses, according to the ACA. That is: "For 2014, the SHOP Marketplace is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees (FTEs). You may qualify for tax credits if you use SHOP."

Q. How big a deal is this delay?

A. "Small businesses are still going to be able to use the shopping qualities, checking the prices if you will, of the different insurance policies that are offered ... but they aren't going to actually be able to enroll online."

Q. Why do it?

A. Capacity: "They're trying to prioritize things ... the SHOP exchanges are a lower priority, frankly, than making sure that consumers can go online and use healthcare.gov."

Q. So what about healthcare.gov? How is that going? Will it be able to handle 50,000 users at a time (as promised) on Dec. 1?

A. Dunno. The administration says yes. Other reports say, maybe not.

Q. Will the IT folks for healthcare.gov be working on Thanskgiving?

A. The administration says tech workers continue to work around the clock to monitor and upgrade healthcare.gov, including on Thanksgiving. 

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.
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