July 11, 2013
With open enrollment in health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) beginning October 1 of this year, the debate is heating up once again.
With announcements coming from the White House regarding changes and delays of the program, opponents of the law are taking the news and running with it.
Recently, the Obama administration announced that a provision of the Affordable Care Act – the employee mandate – would be delayed another year, meaning it wouldn’t go into effect until 2015. Critics are arguing that this means the law isn’t ready to be rolled out in October, citing things like penalties for smokers that computers wouldn’t be able to processuntil 2015.
Because of the delay, Republican House leaders lead by Eric Cantor plan to move forward with legislation that would also delay the individual mandate for another year – kind of a two-for-one for delaying the law. But delaying the employee mandate only affects 4% of businesses with 50 or more employees. The reason for this is that 96% of businesses of this size already offer health insurance for their full-time employees.
Another delay of sorts has to deal with individuals who will be buying insurance under the program. Because of the same computer “glitch” that affects smokers covered under the ACA, those signing up for individual insurance plans will not have their income verified immediately – meaning, essentially, that they’ll be on the “honor system” when signing up. The government plans to address this issue the following year, when claims are audited. If a person owes money then, they’ll have to pay it back.
NPR’s health policy correspondent Julie Rovner sums up these delays well: “…While all these glitches and delays won't really affect how many people will or won't get health insurance, they do create a perception, first, that things aren't going as well as the administration keeps saying. And second, that there may be other shoes yet to drop.”