Chicago area employees with employer-provided health insurance and individuals purchasing health insurance wonder what exactly will happen next with the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” With a democrat-controlled Senate and White House at least through 2014, that means the most groundbreaking aspect of Obamacare–the individual mandate and prohibition on denial of coverage for preexisting conditions–will be implemented on January 1, 2014. This is when the health insurance exchanges are scheduled to be up and running. Implementation of Obamacare had two obstacles to overcome. It overcame the first after the Supreme Court decided in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius that the individual mandate of the law is constitutional. The second obstacle to overcome was the 2012 general election. By November 16th, states must notify the federal government about how they intend to implement the health insurance exchanges. Many will open state-run exchanges. Others will either use a partnership-model with the federal government, or default to the federal exchange.
This is not to say health insurance will not continue to be without its difficulties. If you have been watching the news, you have undoubtedly heard about the looming “fiscal cliff.” Medicare is scheduled to experience drastic cuts in reimbursement rates. And many highly anticipate there will be some sort of a “grand bargain” that would be a combination of trimming spending and increasing revenue. Currently, the exclusion from income of employer-sponsored health insurance is the single largest so-called “revenue loser” for the federal government, so don’t be shocked to hear about proposals to limit that tax incentive, or eliminate it altogether.