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Insurer Feedback Delays Small Business Health Plan

The U.S. delayed a feature of the Affordable Care Act that was intended to help small businesses because of concerns raised by insurers, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today.

Employees at small businesses were supposed to have a choice of health plans in a network of online insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, starting Oct. 1. Instead, their bosses will have to choose a single plan to cover their entire workforce, the administration said last month.

“To try to get the aggregated premiums, all the choice plans up and running in year one was probably going to lead to some major glitches,” Sebelius said in response to a question at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee in Washington today.

The decision came after feedback from insurers, whom she didn’t name, and other parties.

“We really took that advice seriously,” Sebelius told Representative Kenny Marchant, a Republican from Texas, who asked her about the delay.

Workers will be able to choose their own plans starting in 2015, Sebelius said. Meanwhile, “the employer will have a competitive market for the first time ever,” beginning next year, she said.

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