NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

ObamaCare Exchanges: One Big Headache

September 24, 2013

Purchasing health insurance can be a frustrating experience for people trying to buy coverage on their own. Benefits, cost-sharing requirements (including deductibles and copayments), access to specific doctors and other health care providers, and premiums all vary, making comparisons difficult. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) establishes exchanges that are supposed to help people purchase insurance, says Joseph Antos, the Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.

Regardless of who runs the exchanges (the states or the federal government), they will all have problems getting up and running. Establishing an insurance exchange is "highly complex . . . unprecedented and it's not going to be smooth," according to Kevin Counihan, chief executive of Connecticut's health exchange who helped implement Massachusetts's health reform. "This is a two- to three-year implementation we're doing in 10 months."

  • The bottom line is individuals will be able to purchase insurance through the exchanges if they are persistent.
  • Those who can wait a while are likely to have an easier time of it.
  • Given the complicated rules and conditions that must be met to buy insurance on the exchanges, this will never be a simple process.

Supporters of the ACA are beginning to accept that at least the first few months of operation will be difficult for most of the insurance exchanges. They will function after a fashion, but considerable effort will need to be invested in resolving problems that can only be identified by trying to make the exchanges work. This is no guarantee that the ACA will be a success. Far from it, in fact.

Source: Joseph Antos, "ObamaCare: Destined to Flop? Part I," The American, September 16, 2013.


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