Both working with and being a small business owner myself, I wanted to understand how the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is expected to unfold over the next 18 months, and what state-specific issues may be bubbling to the surface.
The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange is fundamentally an online site where you can research, compare, apply for, and purchase health care coverage. From what I understand, it seems very similar to Geico, Progressive, or Esurance, which offer online car insurance. The only differences being that the Exchange is health care-specific, and you can shop for plans offered by numerous health insurance providers all in one spot. It is also important to mention that the Exchange is not yet operational, and is expected to launch in late 2013.
Some of the interesting issues raised during the presentation (as well as during the Q&A session) included:
- Although the Exchange will allow for automated research, application, and buying of insurance plans online, there will not be a large reduction in premiums, as compared to buying plans through traditional brokers;
- In order to curb the trend of employers cutting health care insurance as a result of the recent rise in premiums, there are significant tax credits available to businesses for providing employee health plans (up to 35%), but nearly 80% of the eligible companies have not taken advantage of such credits;
- One of the major effects of the Affordable Care Act will be to distribute or normalize health care premiums and condense age brackets for determining premiums, which will essentially reduce the premiums paid by older individuals, but will significantly increase premiums for young individuals; and
- As a result of the increased premiums for young individuals, it is expected that many will forgo getting insurance coverage and will instead elect to take a $95 penalty on their taxes (which will increase going forward), which essentially defeats many of the rationale for the Act itself.
While the concept of health-care-for-everyone is very appealing, I am now much more skeptical and leery of how health care policy will develop going forward.
To get more information about the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, you can visit their website: www.getcoveredco.org