Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) — Small businesses are dropping health insurance for their workers, as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act lets them send employees to new marketplaces where they can often get subsidies from the government to buy coverage.

WellPoint Inc.'s small business insurance products lost 300,000 people this year, the company said today. Business owners are dropping coverage they previously bought through WellPoint and other insurers, and instead sending employees to shop for it on the government exchanges created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"You've got exchanges up and running and functioning well," Wayne DeVeydt, WellPoint's chief financial officer, said today on a call with investors. "Small group employers will have an opportunity to re-evaluate whether they choose to go to an exchange for their employees." The company is the second biggest U.S. insurer by market capitalization.

The trend will continue into 2015, DeVeydt said, and WellPoint will try to recapture those lost customers on the Affordable Care Act markets, where the insurer offers plans in 14 states. The Indianapolis-based company, the second-biggest U.S. insurer by market value, currently covers about 1.6 million people on small business plans.

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