Obamacare was enacted in 2010, sparking a rowdy rebellion that is unlikely to end anytime soon. While the states most opposed to the Congress’ healthcare reform legislation grabbed the news, a number of states chose a different path–they prepared.
In particular, some states are prepared for January 1, 2014—the date that healthcare for individuals and small businesses may be covered by private insurance purchased through health insurance exchanges.
What is a health insurance exchange? It is an online market place for private health insurance. Simplistically, a health insurance exchange has similarities to commonly used online services like travel-booking or home loan applications or stock trading.
Practically, of course, health insurance exchanges are unique. For example, they will be intensely regulated for consumer protection. An approved health insurance exchange must be consumer-friendly and trustworthy. It must take into account those without access to computers. In short, a health insurance exchange cannot be tossed together at the very last minute.
Congress permitted each state to create and run its own healthcare exchange. Alternatively, a federal health insurance exchange will operate in states unwilling or unprepared to operate their own exchange.
Some states embraced, or at least accepted, this challenge. In fact, twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have currently opted to run their own exchange or work in partnership with the federal government. And twenty of those have conditional approval by the Department of Health & Human Services to operate these exchanges.
Within the last week, the progress in eleven states was awarded with federal grants from the Department of Health & Human Services totaling $1.5 billion. The grants are targeted to ensure that these states succeed in creating and operating affordable healthcare insurance exchanges for their individual citizens and small businesses.
The list of the eleven states is, itself, interesting, and difficult to stereotype. One year grants were awarded to Delaware, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Vermont. Multi-year grants were achieved by California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon.
Before the United States Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, the start switch on the mammoth healthcare reform engine had been tripped. When the national election foreclosed the “promise” to repeal Obamacare on “Day One,” the engine had pulled away from the station. As it moves forward, with ever-increasing speed, toward January 1, 2014, perhaps some concern should turn to those now left back at the station.
The implications for individuals and businesses of the January 1, 2014 deadline must not be underestimated.
© Jack Edward Urquhart