On Thursday, September 26, 2013, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would delay online enrollment in the health insurance exchanges for small businesses. However, applicants may still enroll by phone, mail or fax starting October 1, 2013. Coverage will start January 1, 2014.

The Affordable Care Act program, known as the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), will initially serve businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees, and is expected to expand to larger businesses in the coming years. In contrast to the individual exchanges, which will have set enrollment periods, SHOP will be open throughout the year. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that approximately 4 million individuals will find coverage through this exchange.

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