Well, we survived. October 1 came and went, healthcare marketplaces opened for business, and the sky did not fall.
Of course, the media remains inflamed. There have been hundreds of stories about public exchanges opening and the impact they’ll have. And a majority of the discussion continues to revolve around the politics behind the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Here’s what it all means for most of us right now: Absolutely nothing.
That’s the reality. The opening of the exchanges (marketplaces) on October 1 means absolutely nothing for the overwhelming majority of people. It has virtually no effect for business owners and for people with employer-provided health insurance. The real population affected is the uninsured and/or unemployed. However, most of these individuals won’t be signing up for insurance in the next day or two; they’ll take their time. Even if they do sign up today, coverage does not begin until January 1. There’s no reward for being the first one to purchase insurance through a state-run or federal exchange. In fact, President Obama has said he expects there to be technology glitches upon rollout and through much of the first few months of open enrollment.
Of course, for HR professionals and benefits managers, there is a need to understand what’s going on. We can’t just zoom on by and forget about the new road being built. Those of us who work in the business of group employee benefits need to pay attention to the finer details of how health insurance is delivered to our constituents—employees and their families. We need to prepare to use that new road in the coming months.
Here’s the best advice for how to proceed right now: Keep calm and carry on.
“Carrying on” is particularly important. The ACA is the law of the land, and it remains extremely unlikely that it will be overturned before the next presidential election, if ever.
So our advice to all of our clients has been to continue to move forward with implementing provisions of the ACA. While it’s true that there won’t be any penalties on employers for not being fully ACA-compliant in 2014, it’s smart business to at least understand what your organization’s obligations will be in 2014 and beyond
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