A consensus is building that the ACA outreach may not be able to prepare people in time for the October 1st exchange launch. A new study by the insurance company Aflac finds that seven in ten workers haven’t heard anything from their companies about how the ACA will affect their benefits, while only 9 percent of employers are “very prepared” to adapt their health care packages to the ACA. More:
“At the heart of this issue is the fact that many workers will be blindsided this open enrollment season because we know they already struggle with understanding their insurance policies today, and in covering the high out-of-pocket costs from gaps in their current coverage,” said Michael Zuna, Aflac’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
“Over the next few months, these challenges will be exacerbated as employees may be more confused by changes in their policies, and face greater gaps in their health insurance coverage leaving them at risk,” he said. “With little notice, education, and coverage options to help guide and support them during this season, employers themselves may be at risk of a highly dissatisfied workforce.”
Consensus is building on the question of increased premium costs as well. The National Journal is the latest outlet to look systematically at anticipated ACA rates across the country. It found that while many states are posting rates lower than those predicted in 2010, the post-subsidy costs will still be higher for many people than what they are currently paying:
On average, a worker paid between $862 and $1,065 per year for single coverage in 2013, according to Kaiser’s numbers. For the average family plan, defined as a family of four, insurance cost between $4,226 and $5,284. Fewer than half of all families and only a third of single workers would qualify for enough Obamacare tax subsidies to pay within or below those averages next year.
Fewer than half of Americans will pay less than they currently are. Obama could have eased the US into this reality had he sold the law from the beginning as a redistribution program. Instead, he has consistently given the impression that the ACA will make healthcare more affordable for everyone, even as both supporters and opponents agree that many people will pay more under the law. And premium hikes are not the only new cost Americans will bear: new menu regulations created by Obamacare, for example, will cost restaurants alone $757 million dollars.
Supporters have noted that October 1st is a soft launch, and the real test will be January 1st, when coverage begins. The hope is that the October glitches will be sorted out by January. But the challenges confronting the ACA seem so deep and pervasive that there may be still be plenty of lingering uncertainty come January.