In what has been characterized as the most important decision ever rendered by the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, was upheld by a 5-4 vote, with the opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts. Although there has been significant media attention on this verdict, there continues to be little understanding of the ACA, as its most important provisions don’t take effect until 2014. Most people have felt little, if any, negative impact. Then why has this been of such concern?
Perhaps, the most significant provision is the individual mandate that requires individuals to buy health insurance intact. Along with this requirement is a tax that would be assessed by the IRS should individuals not buy health care. It is unclear how the IRS will collect this penalty tax. There are countless other provisions, among them health insurance exchanges, that are effective in 2014 with no thought on how this will be accomplished and at what cost. It’s hard to predict what the consequences will be for doctors and hospitals, especially when few people understand the escalating expenses associated with the delivery of health care to more insured individuals. Other issues will materialize as 2014 approaches.
While the Supreme Court’s decision ostensibly upholds Obamacare, the political ramifications of this verdict might be characterized as President Obama’s election day. Certainly the importance of the decision to him can’t be underestimated. That said, Mitt Romney. if elected, and the Republican House will surely attempt to repeal the ACA. A change in the majority of the Senate would help repeal ACA, although without Romney it would be difficult.
So where does that leave you? Wait and see. The dust on the Supreme Court opinion will soon settle and more will be in the media. Most individuals will never notice the influence of ACA and the individual mandate. However they will continue to see increased health care premiums and more expensive health care. That won’t change.
For additional information, contact Ellen at EAB HealthWorks.