Health Insurance Exchanges Open Tuesday (and Not Much Will Happen)

Healthcare insurance application
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After years of rumbling and grumbling, debate and delay, D-Day is almost upon us. Despite the best efforts of its opponents -- and their continuing attempts to defund it -- the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, will reach a major milestone on Tuesday: Its health insurance exchanges will open.

Do you hear that rumble of distant guns, the thunderous hoof-beats of the four horsemen of the health care apocalypse? No? Well, one reason may be that, despite the dire warnings of health care reform's enemies, not a whole lot will change on Tuesday. And, as we've previously pointed out, portions of the program have been coming on line for the past year.

Indeed, most people's health care situation won't change at all. People who have Medicaid, Medicare, or workplace-provided health insurance on Monday will still have it on Wednesday. And, if you're uninsured, the health care police aren't going to show up on Tuesday afternoon with a warrant for your arrest. The much-maligned mandate requiring people to buy their own insurance won't kick in until January 2014 -- and the actual deadline for buying 2014 coverage won't arrive until March 31.

So how many people will actually buy insurance on Tuesday? Chances are, not many: According to a recent article in Washington Post's Wonkblog, California's health exchange administrator, Peter Lee, estimates that almost nobody will sign up on the first day. He anticipates, rather, that people will start to explore the public and private marketplaces, consider their options and take their time. Eventually, he predicts, between 800,000 and 1.3 million people Californians will use the state's exchange to buy their coverage.

All told, consumers will now have three options for buying healthcare: They can get it through their employers, through government-run marketplaces, or through a private exchange. The public exchanges will be like state-run online stores where people will be able to comparison-shop for their health insurance. So far, 16 states have agreed to run their own; in the other 34 states, the exchanges will be run by the federal government. For those who prefer the private marketplace, there will also be privately-run exchanges, like eHealth.

These exchanges will offer a wide array of insurance plans, with a variety of options and prices. The White House estimates that the average monthly insurance rate for a single person will be $328 before tax credits and subsidies. On the lowest-cost plan, prices will vary from $114 per month for a 27-year-old in Arizona to $286 per month for a 27-year-old in Wyoming. The White House's webpage gives a feel for what the price ranges will look like.

If those prices seem high, it's worth remembering that subsidies will take a big bite out of the bottom line for many Americans. According to some estimates, in fact, 60 percent of uninsured people will have to pay less than $100 a month for health insurance.

The currently uninsured aren't the only ones who will benefit from Obamacare. From the ending of pre-existing condition restrictions to the fast-tracking of generic drugs, several aspects of the plan are already making health care more reasonable for the average American. And, as Business Insider recently noted, people with HSA's, or medical savings accounts, will be able to contribute even more pre-tax income to them -- a handy way of cutting out a fraction of your health care budget.

So, set the hype aside and relax: Very few things will change on Tuesday. In the coming months, your health expenditures are likely to get a lot more transparent -- and, in many cases, a lot less expensive. Of course, as the President recently joked, by the time that happens, we'll probably have stopped calling it Obamacare.

Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings Editor. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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176 Comments

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Jawmore

I pray it will all fail.

October 02 2013 at 1:10 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jawmore's comment
mily469

which god you praying to? obviously the teachings of Christ are obviously much to liberal for you.

October 02 2013 at 10:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

What happened next was a meltdown from too many deadbeats jumping on the gravy train.

October 01 2013 at 11:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dollibug

A prime example of just how the Government system WORKS/ OR NOT******

October 01 2013 at 8:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mrck922

The site crashes, that's what happens

October 01 2013 at 8:04 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
FSHNT21

Here's a first hand story for you about Obamacare...
I am one of the long term unemployed, having run out of both UC benefits and COBRA health insurance coverage. I applied (or tried to) for Obamacare. I was denied.
Their reason...? Our household income.
My wife still works and though we are in our 60's, we are not yet eligible for Medicare. Her employer offers health insurance, but it is for employees only. Her salary is evidently above the Obamacare guidelines.
NOW, if I were an illegal alien, I would be fully covered by Obamacare...
NOW do you see why the House wants to delay the Individual mandate and try to avoid the "months of "glitches" Obama says will come with this monstrosity...?
Perhaps if he , Lord Harry and Princess Nancy had actually READ the Bill BEFORE they rammed it down America's throat, we wouldn't be where we are...

October 01 2013 at 8:04 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
William

Ya they crash and dont work correctly. Boy are we ready for the biggest blunder in modern times.

October 01 2013 at 7:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
pdbliz

SHUT DOWN THE GOLF COURSE,,,NOT THE PARKS.!!!

October 01 2013 at 5:04 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
mtntreepriest

I've met two women on separate occasions who ent for their routine mammograms who were told that they weren't getting them anymore. Why? Under the new plan, if you're 75, they would not treat you if they found anything. Now we'll have forced expiration dates.

October 01 2013 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mtntreepriest's comment
vallontina

I'll believe that when I actually see that written in a policy. Do you think that attorney's won't fight this type of agism? Do you think a doctor will allow a patient to die if they spot a cancer at stage 1? Maybe these women are assuming they won't be treated based on some rumor they heard.

October 01 2013 at 7:27 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
prys60

THERE COMES A POINT IN TIME-- 2013 ===WHEN WE MUST THINK ABOUT WE THE PEOPLE---ALL THE PEOPLE AND NOT JUST A FEW---WHEN THIS COUNTRY CAN THINK WE AND NOT MY PARTY AFFILIATION OR ONE SIDED BELIEFS----WHEN WE AS ADULTS CAN LEAD THE WAY AND SHOW OUR CHILDREN THAT WE ARE NOT HYPOCRITS SPEAKING OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF OUR MOUTHS TO SUIT OTHERS====WHEN WE CAN AGREE TO DISAGREE WITHOUT CAUSING HARM TO OTHERS BUT JUSTIFY THE MEANS FOR ALL THE PEOPLE AND NOT JUST A FEW====WHEN WE CAN ACCEPT THAT THE MAJORITY RULES BY VOTE =======WHEN WE CAN ACCEPT THE FACT THAT WE AS ''AMERICANS'' CAN SHOW THE WORLD THAT WE ARE A CONGLAMORIZATION OF ALL RACES==CREEDS AND COLORS MAKING US UNITED AS ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE--LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL------OUR WE ADULT ENOUGH TO MAKE IT HAPPEN IN 2013 ---??????? HAVEN'T DONE IT IN OVER 50 YEARS--MAYBE IT IS ABOUT TIME--------

October 01 2013 at 2:07 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to prys60's comment
betty_brock

We libs are having one big meltdown aren't we prys?

October 01 2013 at 8:40 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to betty_brock's comment
betty_brock

We liberals can't understand why King Obama didn't get his way. He should have chopped off a few heads.

October 01 2013 at 8:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
jaime439

Kumbaya my lord Kumbaya...................

October 01 2013 at 9:46 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
brucepaldowic

Obamacare is the best thing that happened to my husband and me. We are self employed and
are 60 years old and paying $1,500 a month for a insurance plan that has a $5,000 deductible!!!!!
We also have pre exsisting conditions. We will now be paying $388 a month for a much better insurance policy. You people that are making comments about the new plan should research it before you make any comments. This is a sham what the Republicans are trying to do.

October 01 2013 at 2:04 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to brucepaldowic's comment