This summer has brought a couple new developments in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The most public was the administration’s announcement on July 2 that they will be delaying the start date for the employer mandate by one year. This is the part of the bill that requires businesses with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance. The administration cited employers’ concern over the reporting requirements as the reason for the delay. The new date for implementation of this provision will be January 1, 2015, allowing more time for the reporting requirements to be reviewed and simplified. President Obama and the administration do not anticipate a delay in implementing other parts of the law including the individual mandate. For patients, this means that those expecting to receive coverage through their employers in 2014 may have to either purchase health insurance on their own unless they qualify for Medicare or Medicaid or pay a fine for not having health insurance. Many employers will continue to offer health insurance despite the mandate not taking effect until 2015.
In order to prepare new consumers entering the health insurance market, the Department of Health and Human Services launched healthcare.gov on June 24, as well as a 24-hour call center. With resources for both individuals and small businesses, the website prompts visitors with a series of questions to direct them to the appropriate information and also provides more general information on health insurance. The tools available online now are purely educational and designed to help educate consumers before the Health
Insurance Marketplace opens on October 1. At that point, consumers will be able to create an account and purchase health insurance through the website.
For more of an overview of what ACA implementation means for different populations, check out the new Kaiser Family Foundation video here.
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