By MATTHEW STURDEVANT, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
4:33 PM EDT, April 22, 2013
A Connecticut health exchange that is set to offer insurance plans on Oct. 1 will be equipped to cater to small businesses on that date, despite a federal extension that allows state exchanges to delay until 2015 the implementation of a Small Business Health Options program.
Access Health CT, which is the exchange in Connecticut, will offer health insurance plans on Oct. 1 for the 2014 calendar year. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allows states to delay implementing a part of the Small Business Health Options program, or SHOP, until 2015.
Different states are more or less prepared to have a health exchange up and running by Oct. 1 as required by the Affordable Care Act. States also have the option of having the federal government manage an exchange for them.
SHOP allows small business employers to purchase health plans on an exchange. Employers also have the option of directing employees to buy their own health insurance on the exchange, though employers must pay a share of the cost. That model is called "defined contribution," referring to the employer's portion of employees' health insurance costs.
"We understand the importance of choice and affordability to small businesses and their employees," Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said in a prepared statement. "We know one size doesn't always fit all and that individual employees have different needs. Our SHOP products offer broad carrier choice while allowing employers to budget and fix their costs for health insurance."
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