California takes down online health insurance exchange for small businesses
The nation’s most populous state has elected to temporarily shutter its new online health insurance marketplace for small business only four months after it launched, dealing yet another blow to a key element of the health care law meant to lower costs for employers.California officials on Wednesday announced they are suspending online enrollment effective immediately for small businesses on the state’s new health insurance portal, known as Covered California. Health plans available through the state’s Small Business Health Options Program (or SHOP) will still be available but can only be purchased over the phone, via paper applications or through insurance agents.State health officials say they will use the time to “implement a series of redesigns.”“The SHOP portal was not meeting the needs of agents or small employers and needed improvements,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said in a statement announcing the decision. “Taking the portal offline will not affect the paper application process, which has been the preferred enrollment method traditionally used by insurance agents in the small-group market.”
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