2012 has been a critical year in the life of the Affordable Care Act. In June, the Act avoided being repealed and declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The case was brought by 26 states with the intention of disabling the legislation. Now, with the Presidency decided and Obama reelected, it would seem that the ACA is safe.
Although some small pieces of ACA have been implemented, 2014 is the year of universal coverage. The expansion of a parent’s health care coverage to children until age 26 and an increase preventative services, while important components of the ACA, didn’t require a significant overhaul of the healthcare system. However, in 2014, the universal health care system will be significantly revamped to become what most individuals have come to call Obamacare. Is it even possible to be ready for all parts of the ACA that have a 2014 deadline?
Consider these areas that have need to be ready for 2014:
Health Insurance Exchanges. In 2014, universal health insurance becomes a reality. Those individuals whose income is less than 400% of the poverty level will be eligible for subsidies. Individuals who are uninsured and others who may no longer have the opportunity to enroll in health insurance at work will need to purchase insurance or begin facing a penalty that will increase over time. Each state must either set up their own exchange or partner with the federal government and use a federally run exchange. Given the uncertainty surrounding the continued existence of the ACA, only 13 states indicated that they would establish their own exchanges. Undoubtedly other states would follow suit, but it is nearly impossible to have an exchange up and running by 2014 when little or nothing has been done to date. Depending upon an exchange’s enrollment and the new requirement to cover preexisting conditions, premiums could be higher than expected. Could it be less expensive for state residents to participate in federally run program? No one really knows at this point.
Employer Sponsored Health Insurance. There has been much speculation as to whether employers will stop covering employees and refer them to exchanges in an effort to reduce health care costs. Although no large employers have announced an elimination of health care as an employee benefit, certainly the establishment of health care exchanges will prompt employers to take another look.
While it’s unlikely that the ACA will be repealed in its entirety, who knows? The CLASS Act–Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act, a provision of the ACA–was rescinded last February. There may be more to come.