House Pushes to Delay Obamacare Prior to Open of Health Exchanges

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As a key component of Obamacare readies to take effect, the law finds itself in a bit of a tug of war. The House of Representatives announced plans over the weekend to delay the law’s start date, while Senate members vow to start on time, as planned.

The Congressional war comes at an inopportune time for individuals awaiting a chance to examine coverage options offered by health exchanges which open on Tuesday, Oct. 1. The political squabbles leave many to wonder how their health insurance will be affected if the law was indeed delayed.

Obamacare Future Tied to Government Shutdown

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was controversial well before it was signed into law in 2010. Politicians and consumers alike were not thrilled with various aspects of the law, including the requirement to purchase coverage or pay a penalty.

Those who oppose the law have stopped at nothing to have it reversed. The House of Representatives alone has voted more than 40 times for a repeal of the health reform law. With one day left before state health exchanges are set to open, the House continues its fight.

On Sunday morning, House members announced a measure (one of many sent to and from the Senate) that will avoid another lingering problem in Congress — a shutdown that could occur if officials fail to fund the government before the new fiscal year begins on October 1.

In the measure, the House stipulates that it will only fund the government and avoid a shutdown if the Senate agrees to delay the Affordable Care Act by one year and puts an end to a controversial medical device tax.

The Senate and President Barack Obama both say they won’t agree to a House measure that changes any aspect of the health reform law. This means, Americans will have to wait and see how, if at all, government funding and Obamacare will be impacted in the coming days.

How an Obamacare Delay Affects Your Health Insurance

Many are wondering how much their health insurance will be affected if Congress agrees to delay the Affordable Care Act. The answer, while depending on a number of factors, is likely very little — at least for the foreseeable future.

Experts say Obamacare funding is currently coming from new taxes and fees, along with cost cuts to other programs like Medicare. These and other forms of funding will continue for some time, even if the government is shutdown.

Also, some portions of the law that have nothing to do with funding have already taken effect, like the provision that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26.

Further, insurance companies would also still be required to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and Americans will still be required to purchase coverage, as determined by the 2012 Supreme Court decision to uphold the law.

In other words, health exchanges are expected to still open for business on October 1, regardless of delays or a government shutdown. So individuals interested in exploring health insurance options in their state should still have the opportunity to do so, beginning tomorrow.

Photo: by Ron Cogswell