It's disappointing that the online portion of the federal small business marketplace through Healthcare.gov will be delayed and it's important it get up and running as soon as possible. However, it doesn't change the fact that the marketplace can offer the most competitive combination of price and quality for small businesses purchasing health insurance. Small employers will still have two ways to enroll in the marketplace and access coverage. What's more, the nation's 22 million self-employed individuals are already able to enroll in the individual marketplace, which is a step in the right direction for our nation's entrepreneurs.
The marketplace is still the most important provision in the Affordable Care Act for small businesses and until the online portion is functional, small business owners will be able to purchase insurance through it exactly as they do now in the outside market. The marketplace will allow small businesses to pool their buying power to help drive down coverage costs. And small employers that do offer coverage may also be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50 percent of their premiums. We know from opinion polling that two-thirds of small business owners would use the marketplace or at least consider using it, compared to a mere 8 percent who say they would not.
There's still a lot in the healthcare law that will benefit small employers. We should take this opportunity to educate small employers on the alternative pathways for enrolling in the marketplace so they have the opportunity to find more affordable health coverage.