Yesterday, I gave a presentation at our first legislative round table of the 2013 session. This presentation concentrated on understanding how our health insurance will change under the Affordable Care Act. I organized the presentation around “The questions you’ll be asked at Town Hall Meetings in 2013.”
To prepare, I asked friends and family what questions they still had about the Affordable Care Act:
- A small business owner: “How will this change my cost of insurance from both the perspective of employer and employee?”
- A long-time friend, employed and without insurance (it’s too expensive), asked if her insurance will become “affordable” in 2014.
- A nurse practitioner asked if the people she serves at a community-funded clinic will have any chance of securing health insurance.
The answers, like so many aspects of health policy, are complicated.
Premiums will be in for a rough ride. The most optimistic estimates come from the Congressional Budget Office, where the most recent projections estimate an annual increase in premiums of 5.7% over the next decade. Aetna’s CEO, Mark Bertolini, recently expressed concerns that many companies and individuals are headed for “premium rate shock” with premiums doubling for small businesses and individuals.
So premiums will rise. Many Americans will be protected with tax subsidies (individuals) and tax incentives (small businesses meeting specific qualifications). But others need to watch the market carefully.
Also to watch: The idea of affordability itself. For people paying nothing (and not receiving health insurance) paying anything at all may be a shock to their budgets. Even families with subsidies paying for part of the health premiums may be surprised to learn that they might be on the hook for more than they expected.
The good news is that the law will make insurance affordable to many individuals and employers. For those of us in policy circles or those of us sitting around the family table making purchasing decisions, it’s important to know the landscape and the choices available. The Colorado Health Institute has some tools to help. Look for them in my presentation.