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No Repeal, No Replace: Still Talking

The dust is settling on last Friday’s embarrassment and House Republicans are vowing to come with a new plan that will pass muster with all Republican groups, including the Freedom Caucus. Speaker Paul Ryan has urged members to refocus their energy on finding an acceptable alternative.

But what does this mean for us? Will Obamacare explode, as President Trump has insisted? Is it in flux? How do individuals plan for health care going forward?

With respect to a choice of plans at health insurance exchanges, this will depend on where you live. Generally, big cities will have more options than rural areas where there are fewer people looking for coverage. The selection is dwindling, but most likely there will be one insurer in every marketplace. Hard to say what will happen in 2018, but it is likely that it will be much like 2017. Insurers generally have to decide by spring if they will offer plans on an exchange. Participants won’t know for certain until early next fall.

The Health and Human Services Department (HHS), which oversees Obamacare, has proposed some changes with an eye towards stabilizing state health insurance exchanges. One adjustment involves taking a closer look at the special enrollment period where individuals under certain circumstances such as marriage or the birth of a child, are allowed to sign up outside of the open enrollment dates. Insurers have reported that people are just waiting until they need care, so closer monitoring of this special enrollment period should be done. HHS is also proposing that insurers be permitted to design cheaper plans for younger people who may not need much health care but want to be covered in the event of injury or illness. These plans would encourage younger, and usually healthier individuals, to enroll thereby evening out the claims insurers pay out to those who use their coverage.

While the choice of plans is certainly dwindling, the marketplaces aren’t expected to “implode” next year.


Given the differing agendas, not to mention the alternative facts and fake news, it’s hard to believe anything and to predict with any confidence whether Obamacare will implode or struggle along in the next year or two.