The Obama administration has postponed the SHOP exchange online application until November 2014.

Good news for small businesses that pay most of the employees’ premiums for health coverage. The health insurance tax credit that began in 2010 at a 35% rate will increase to 50% as scheduled. However, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange that small businesses needed to begin buying their insurance from, is not expected to be available until November 2014. The good news is, they can still qualify for the credit, if they purchase a SHOP Qualified Health Plan directly from an agent, broker or insurer that offers these plans. It is called “direct enrollment”.

According to the HHS.gov, if you qualified for the small employer health insurance tax credit in prior years, contact your agent to see if you can qualify for direct enrollment in a SHOP plan (or if your current plan qualifies). You have until 12/23/2013 to do the direct enrollment for the coverage (and credit) to begin1/1/2014.