Under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, in approximately 13 months the way many of us buy health insurance will change dramatically. In 2014, many in Vermont will be required to buy their insurance through a government-run health insurance exchange. This coming year, 2013, will be somewhat of a bridge year as the state of Vermont works to develop the exchange and meet the new federal guidelines.
There have been a number of information meetings held locally to try and get business owners and individuals up to speed on how the changes will affect us. That’s been a good thing, as many of us generally only pay attention at one of three times: when the bill is due, when the policy is up for renewal, or when we need health care services.
Earlier this week, the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce held such an information meeting (see article on page 1). That’s a good thing, and we’re hoping that over the next few months more meetings are held.
Vermont is also hoping to take the Obamacare changes one step further and implement a single payer health care system later this decade. While that is certainly not set in stone, single payer appears to be where the state is headed.
Interestingly, Vermont has already been experimenting with somewhat radical health care delivery under the “Dr. Dynosaur” programs for children and the Green Mountain Health Care programs for adults. Some might say the results have been varied, but the bottom line is the programs have cut in half the number of uninsured Vermonters, compared to national averages.
Many of the coming changes are difficult to digest, and are still somewhat of a moving target. Whatever changes end up sticking, one thing that is certain is that health insurance in 2014 and beyond will look and act very differently from what health care has been over the past half-century. Employer-based health care will be going away, and individuals will be more and more responsible for picking and choosing their insurance.
That’s why everyone needs to have some degree of understanding of what is being proposed. The goal is to have individuals more in charge of their health insurance decisions. That’s the critical point if the whole process. When it comes to health care, being uninformed can truly be a matter of life and death.