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If you’re not already aware of this, you should know that the Affordable Healthcare Act has already brought some revolution in healthcare and will soon bring even more.
What’s happened to date
There have already been changes made in the way we receive healthcare. The health insurance companies can no longer deny to cover you because of a pre-existing condition. You can receive wellness screenings and preventive care at no additional cost. And lifetime dollar limits are a thing of the past.
With more to come
Beginning next year all Americans will be required to have health insurance. This is called the "individual mandate" and is expected to create 30 million new customers for the insurance companies through state health exchanges. The Affordable Care Act also has incentives for the states to expand Medicaid coverage to help subsidize the cost of many of the individual policies that result from these exchanges.
Premiums may increase dramatically
One of the changes confronting the insurance industry is that they will now have to cater more to individual customers than on selling group plans to employers. The problem is that the insurance companies have no idea as to how expensive it will be to provide coverage to these new customers, many of whom have not been insured for a number of years and may not even be working. The net/net of this is that some people could be required to pay dramatically higher premiums, at least initially.
Some insurers will disappear
Some of the insurance companies may have trouble getting into the new exchange market. As a result, you won't find them listed among the choices you will have in your state's exchange. Insurance companies will have to be certified by the National Committee of Quality Assurance or some other certification agency. If they can't obtain the necessary certification, they'll simply not appear in the insurance exchanges.
Another thing that has happened as a result of the health care legislation is that there has been a feeding frenzy as bigger group insurance companies have bought up smaller carriers that cater to individuals. This could cause some people to become confused. The companies that purchased smaller companies and left them with their names intact are now "rebranding" them. The effect of this is that you may think your insurance company has disappeared. The upside is that it should make health insurance more portable. If you go into an exchange and buy an insurance company's brand and then lose your job, you should be able take your health insurance with you, in effect, because you'll see it’s name listed in the exchange.
Or you might not feel a thing
You already have health insurance from your employer? In this case, you may notice hardly anything happens next year. This is because the biggest changes have already occurred to the health insurance companies such as the free preventive care and no lifetime limits on coverage. Some of these companies may decide to drop their plan to force their employees into the individual exchanges but it's believed that this is unlikely to happen with the vast majority of employers.
The market will become more concentrated
Insurance companies that don’t pursue individual customers might survive for two or three years. However, after that it’s likely that they will disappear. The market today is already very concentrated and it’s bound to become even more so.
What should you do?
If you have employer-sponsored health care insurance, your should probably just sit tight and see what happens. It’s possible that you won’t see any changes at all. On the other hand, if you currently don’t have health insurance, you need to learn what you can about your state’s insurance exchange and what you will need to do to become insured.