Tomorrow marks the official start date of open enrollment in the healthcare insurance exchange marketplace. For the first time in history, millions nationwide will have the opportunity to purchase health insurance as a benefit of the Affordable Care Act.
“For millions of Americans, these new options will finally make health insurance work within their budgets,” said Kathleen Sebelius, health and human services secretary.
While brimming with possibility and excitement, true assessments of the exchanges’ efficiency will not be evident for years to come; at least according to most policy experts.
“There will likely be glitches with the roll-out of a huge startup,” Kevin Lucia, project director of Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute said in a recent article
. "The key is that governments have a process in place to identify them and work on resolving them. Don’t be surprised to see a deferment of some of the more consumer friendly parts of the exchanges.”
An estimated 7 million people are expected to buy insurance on the exchanges in the first year, but it may be more important to analyze who is signing up rather than the number. Sabrina Corlette, a professor at Georgetown’s Health Policy Institute said
the first batch of enrollees will likely be very eager for coverage, and will not be the healthy, younger buyers needed to balance premiums.
"In December and then in March you'll see the rush of procrastinators and those who are not in as much need of healthcare services," said Dr Corlette.
There also is a potential for participants to drop out after realizing the high cost of premium payments month after month.
"As with all things, the first few weeks are not a good indication of anything," said Joseph Antos, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute. "It doesn't tell you anything about the prospects for health reform being a success or a failure."
Around the Web
Health Insurance Exchanges Open Tuesday, but What Happens Next? [Healthline]
Impact of Exchanges' Key Parts May Take Years to Assess [USA Today]