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Exchanges open tomorrow – what does this mean?

Come hell or high water – or even a government shutdown, the Exchanges are going to open tomorrow.  Here’s what it means.

  • Some will not be “fully operational” – Spanish language options won’t be on-line in Nevada for some weeks; Medicaid and subsidy eligibility can only be accessed via phone in some states; small businesses can’t buy coverage till November.
  • Estimates are that only about 7 percent of the population will obtain coverage thru the Exchanges – or about 23 million people.  The rest will be covered via Medicare, Medicaid, and employer plans, and other means.
  • The open enrollment period is six months; don’t expect all 23 million to sign up tomorrow, or even this time around.  This is especially true as enrollees have to pay their first month’s premium within 30 days of enrollment; I wouldn’t expect a lot of folks to sign up tomorrow and pay a month’s premium on coverage that won’t kick in for 90 days.
  • Coverage begins January 1, 2014.
  • By the end of the initial enrollment period an estimated 7 million will haver purchased coverage thru the Exchanges.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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