On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) launched one of its key provisions: enrollment for the health insurance marketplace. Through this process, otherwise known as health exchanges, applicants can compare different health insurance plans available in their respective states. Applicants seeking coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014 will need to apply by Dec. 15, 2013—otherwise the first open enrollment period will end March 31, 2014. The intent of these exchanges is to foster a competitive insurance market which could drive costs down and allow more people to purchase desired coverage. Ideally, if more individuals are purchasing coverage, there are more people sharing benefits, which should decrease both emergency treatment and overall cost.
This phase has not gone without opposition. Some House GOP members have attempted to defund ACA through tactics, such as refusing to pass a budget unless it included a provision to delay implementation. The failure to pass a budget resulted in a government shutdown; the first in nearly two decades. The Republican-controlled House passed a resolution in the early hours of Sunday, Sept. 29 that continued to fund the government until December, given a one-year delay implementation delay. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democratic-controlled Senate voted to table the amendments and noted that Democrats will block any resolution tied to ACA implementation.
At Advocacy Brief press time, the shutdown of non-essential parts of the federal government is expected to continue for upwards of two weeks until both parties can agree on components of the budget, such as the debt ceiling. The marketplace enrollment continued in the face of the shutdown on Tuesday.
This content was originally published in the Oct. 2013 issue of Advocacy Brief.