WebMD Health News

By Bara Vaida

Reviewed by Katherine Swartz, PhD

July 10, 2013 — Maryland has delayed open enrollment for small businesses to buy insurance in its health insurance Marketplace by three months to Jan. 1, 2014. The insurance will take effect March 1, 2014.

Open enrollment for individuals and small businesses was to begin Oct. 1, 2013, but “after long conversations with third-party administrators,” state officials decided to delay enrollment just for small businesses to give everyone more time, says Danielle Davis, director of communications for Maryland Health Connection.

“About 67% of small businesses (in Maryland) use third-party administrators, and we wanted to have sufficient time to prepare the system” for them, Davis says. Third-party administrators are brokers and professionals who help companies buy and oversee insurance plans for their employees.

Aetna, CareFirst Blue Shield, Coventry Health Care, Evergreen Health Cooperative, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, and United Healthcare will be selling health insurance in the small business Marketplace, also known as SHOP. 

About 8,469 small-business employees and 147,233 individuals are expected to get insurance through the Marketplace in 2014, according to a study conducted by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Hilltop Institute.

Davis would not comment on whether the delay in enrolling small businesses might dampen interest in the insurance Marketplace.

Individuals in Maryland will still be able to buy health insurance in the Marketplace beginning Oct. 1, and their insurance will be effective on Jan. 1, 2014.

SOURCES:Danielle Davis, Director, Communications, Outreach & Training, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.Betsy Charlow, Communications Manager, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.The Hilltop Institute: “The Economic Impact of the ACA.”

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