The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today postponed a legislated feature of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), a health insurance marketplace for small businesses and their employees included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), labeling it too complicated to implement at this time.

The SHOP exchanges are set to operate along with the Health Insurance Marketplaces for individuals beginning in 2014. In the case of SHOP, however, the program is designed to allow small businesses to choose one plan for their company or offer their employees the option to choose from among competing plans offered by SHOP at a benefit level chosen by their employer.

It's the latter option — individual employee choice — that's being delayed until 2015.

"We believe that because of this strong value proposition, the SHOP may still have robust enrollment despite the adoption of this transitional policy," the department said in a final regulation on the SHOP exchanges.