While improvements have been made to the Healthcare.gov website, next year we are not going to get the Affordable Care Act. The program currently being implemented for 2014 is really not the law that was signed three years ago. Instead, in 2014 we are only getting the Obamacare beta test.
In a desperate attempt to get what the administration considers to be the most important elements just barely working in time, huge sections of the law have been delayed for at least a year. Almost all the focus has been put on getting the individual market exchanges working at the expensive of almost every other part of the law.
I would go so far as to say roughly half the law will not be in place next year as it was supposed to be. Two of the biggest elements of the Affordable Care Act, the employer mandate and the SHOP exchanges, will not be in place by then.
The employer mandate was one leg of a three-legged stool. This huge delay will cost taxpayers around $12 billion and increase the number of uninsured by half a million.
The small business exchange was one of the Democrats’ biggest selling points for the law. It was meant to significantly change how small businesses and millions of their employees selected insurance to help them better compete with large companies. This now won’t be ready in any form until 2015.
Several other less fundamental but still significant sections also won’t be in place in time. The Federal Basic Health Plan Option, which would have given states another option for covering people making slightly too much to qualify for Medicaid, was crippled by a one year delay. The move could’ve impacted millions and probably increased the number that will be uninsured.
We will see big health care changes next year, but it will not be the Affordable Care Act. 2014 is basically just a huge beta test with only half of the promised features. We will need to wait until at least 2015 before the law is really in place.