Will Obamacare be ready by Oct. 1?

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Open enrollment under Obamacare scheduled to launch on October 1
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The Affordable Healthcare Law, also known as “Obamacare”, is scheduled to launch open enrollment for new health insurance plans on October 1, 2013. That’s just a few short months away, which has some wondering if everything will be ready to launch by then.

On June 19, the Government Accountability Office released its first in-depth report about Obamacare, with details on what Americans can expect from the massive health overhaul, including implementation of insurance exchanges.

“Much progress has been made, but much remains to be accomplished within a relatively short amount of time,” the report said.

On June 18, the “Get Covered America” campaign was launched to promote the new health care act to uninsured Americans in an effort to educate them about the law and their rights.

However, reaching those who are supposed to benefit from Obamacare most will not be easy.

“Seventy-eight percent of the uninsured aren’t even aware of what’s coming their way,” said Anne Filipic, the president of Enroll America and former White House employee.

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Perhaps one of the most questionable aspects of the new health system is a computerized clearinghouse, which has been described as a federal “data hub”. The “data hub” is supposed to provide an instant ruling on whether a consumer is eligible or not. Unfortunately, the computerized hub hasn’t yet had a complete test run.

And there’s still wiring that needs to be laid for the computerized clearinghouse to work.

“Most of the specs have been written, but the all wiring hasn’t been laid, and what will happen when they flip the switch nobody really knows,” said Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, a writer for the AP.

In the meantime, open enrollment is just a few short months away, starting on October 1. However, major provisions of the 2010 health care law won’t take effect until January 2014, which is when employers with 50 or more full-time employees are required to offer them health insurance or else pay a penalty. Similarly, individuals are also required to obtain insurance or pay penalties.

Consequently, speculation exists that some employers will stop offering insurance and instead pay the penalties, which will be less expensive. Other employers are cutting back some employee’s hours while curtailing any new hires in an effort to reduce the law's impact on their bottom line.

What ultimately happens if employers stop offering health insurance remains unknown, but the cost of health insurance is a major concern, especially for small business owners.

Indeed, health insurance premiums have gone up over 100% just this past decade, while the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage from their employer has gone down 10 percent.

SOURCE: Government Accountability Office, “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Status of CMS Efforts to Establish Federally Facilitated Health Insurance Exchanges”, June 2013

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