Welcome to the American Cancer Society’s Community Talks Cancer. Today’s episode is called Demystifying the Health Exchange.
As many of you know, the Affordable Care Act’s requirements take effect on January 1, 2014. The law changed the way that insurance was offered – it allows children to be covered up to the age of 26 under their parents’ policies, for example. Also it allows states to broaden Medicaid coverage to the near poor and enacts changes to improve health wellness.
The law requires that virtually every American have health insurance coverage. Most of the uninsured will obtain coverage through a health exchange. Each state is required to have a health exchange either by setting one up for themselves or through a state exchange run by the federal government. Small businesses will also have the option of purchasing insurance through an exchange.
The theory behind the health exchange is market-based. If you pool together the risks of a larger number of people, each individual’s insurance cost goes down. And if you require nearly everyone to obtain coverage, the influx of healthy and younger consumers will also help reduce the per person costs of coverage.
The theory was put into practice in the state of Massachusetts. In that state, the changes have increased health insurance coverage to the highest in the nation – now roughly 98%!
The American Cancer Society is concerned about the lack of affordable health insurance coverage. It’s devastating enough to get a cancer diagnosis, that problem is multiplied if the patient lacks health insurance.