Facing the tight timeline imposed by his own administration, the decision has come to delay the full implementation of healthcare exchanges for small businesses. The program called SHOP – Small Business Health Options Program – will not be operational until 2015. This exchange would be separate from the individual exchange that is still expected

As intended, the program will allow employers to select a level of coverage and then employees would have the ability to enter into a healthcare exchange and choose from different providers. Instead, in 2014 employers will be able to choose between different providers and levels of coverage, all employees would then be enrolled in that plan.

According to a former Health and Human Services official in the Obama Administration, it is evidence that the department is focusing on the must-dos and not the nice-to-haves. The slower implementation of SHOP will allow small businesses to continue to offer coverage much as it has before, and will give exchanges a chance to prove their value in collective bargaining and leveraged buying.

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