Year-long delay for small business insurance website is latest missed deadline for health law

CHICAGO – Small businesses interested in buying marketplace health insurance plans for their workers will have to purchase them from agents, brokers or insurance companies for the next year, rather than through the government website.

The Obama administration is delaying the launch of its online portal to the health insurance marketplace for small businesses until November 2014.

The move was announced Wednesday. Officials said the delay is needed because repairs are still underway to the troubled website for individuals to apply for insurance.

The administration said the plan will still allow small businesses to buy coverage while avoiding a slowing down of technical repairs to the hobbled federal online site. Under the law, companies with 50 or more employees face a mandate to offer insurance or risk fines in 2015.