In 35 states where the federal government is taking a lead role in the development of the health insurance exchanges, small businesses will be required to wait until November to complete their online purchases of health coverage. The Obama Administration originally established October 1, 2013 as the opening date for the small business exchanges.

Even with the delay, small businesses will be able to go online starting October 1 to compare their health coverage options and begin the application process. They will not be able to complete their online applications until November, when the online portal for small businesses is expected to be fully functional. The administration reported that its exchanges will have the ability, starting on October 1, to manually process paper applications.

The delay is not expected to affect the federally facilitated individual market exchanges or the exchanges where the states are taking the lead role in development.

Health coverage purchased through the exchanges is scheduled to be effective on January 1, 2014. It is not yet clear whether this delay will cause any delays in the January 1 effective date for small business coverage.