In the wake of one of the most polarizing elections in many years, at least one aspect of national policy is clear: the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will go forward and its main provisions will kick in starting in January 2014. But significant implementation activities are already underway.
At BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, we have long been committed to ensuring everyone has high quality, cost-effective coverage. We are continuing our intense planning for the upcoming changes the law mandates. New York is moving to create the New York Health Benefit Exchange, enabled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order, which needs to be operational by next October.
This will be an electronic marketplace option for individuals and companies with 50 or fewer employees, to shop for and obtain health insurance that would start Jan. 1, 2014. All coverage offered through the exchange must provide a minimum set of specified benefits.
BlueCross BlueShield leaders are involved in state work groups to provide guidance and input on critical operational details of this process. The state and insurers have much work to do to be ready for offering products on the exchange.
While we are working, in good faith, to implement the law, we’re concerned that some aspects of it will increase premiums for millions of Americans. We are working with legislators and policymakers to address these issues. For example, a health insurance provider tax, slated to begin in 2014, adds hundreds of dollars to family premiums. The Congressional Joint Tax Committee estimates that average family premiums will increase up to $400 a year by 2016.
While making coverage more accessible is important, affordability remains key in whether people will buy it. We have been leading the way to work with doctors, hospitals and other health care professionals to transform the health care system so it rewards quality, improves outcomes for patients, and helps to rein in costs for everyone. We remain committed to these efforts as a way of making health care as affordable as possible.