What’s Ahead for the Affordable Care Act?

The first year of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will wrap up before we know it. And although much of the talk about the new law has died down, no doubt it will be top-of-mind again as consumers prepare for the beginning of open enrollment on November 15.


The question on most people’s minds will likely be whether premiums will go up or down. Rate filings from across the country will be watched closely through the rest of this year as insurers calculate their actual costs and project their expenses and premiums for 2015.

Your best bet for a better deal in 2015 may be through smaller insurers in your state. According to the Wall Street Journal, rates at many of the smallest insurers will drop as these companies try to attract more customers. The largest insurers in many states, on the other hand, say they’ll raise premiums anywhere from 8.5 percent to 22.8 percent in 2015.

You may also have more options in 2015 than those who enrolled this year. Until recently, some of the nation’s largest insurers were waiting to make the decision about participating in the ACA marketplaces. Now several insurers say they will sell policies on the exchanges, while others have announced plans to expand their offerings to more states.

In the longer term, the ACA could have a monumental impact on how health insurance is delivered. Enrollment is predicted to reach 13 million in 2015, up from 8 million in May 2014. In fact, some experts speculate that eventually, more people may purchase health insurance through the ACA than through employer-provided plans.

Analysis from S&P Capital IQ, a research firm in the financial services industry, projects that about 90 percent of U.S. employees who currently get employer-based health insurance will be shifted to ACA exchanges by 2020.

That’s not to say, however, that employees will be on their own when it comes to paying for health insurance. Many employers may choose to offer employees a certain amount to help cover health insurance costs on the exchange instead of sponsoring plans themselves. Even with the annual penalty of $2,000 per worker that the ACA levies against large employers that don’t provide health insurance, this approach may still help employers control their ever-increasing health insurance costs.

Whatever happens with the ACA, make sure you consider the cost of health insurance as you plan for your financial future—both while you’re working and throughout retirement.


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