The federal health care law was known as Obamacare. And Republicans, including President Trump, campaigned on repealing it.
That didn’t happen.
“It’s the law of the land,” said Rosemarie Day, founder of Day Health Strategies in Massachusetts. “So, it’s pretty notable, the law itself still exists. It’s been modified, it’s been chipped away at, I would say, but some of the fundamentals that were really important are still in place.”
Connecticut has just begun open enrollment for health plans being offered under the Affordable Care Act. This is the sixth such period for those looking for private insurance and who may also need a federal subsidy to pay for it.
Those fundamentals Day referred to include subsidies for people who can’t afford health insurance on their own, as well as protections for most people with pre-existing conditions -- the latter are threatened by a case that could end up before the Supreme Court. And the fundamentals also include the federal and state-based marketplaces known as exchanges. Connecticut’s exchange is called Access Health CT, and open enrollment for plans on that exchange began last week and goes through Dec. 15.
That all said, there have been some changes to some of the law’s effects on health insurance more broadly. The original act included a mandate that everyone have insurance -- an effort to spread out risk. If you didn’t have health insurance, you could be penalized by the federal government. Not anymore.
“The thing that was repealed was the penalty for the mandate,” Day said.
So, while there may still be a mandate on the books, Days said “it’s a toothless mandate, I guess you could say.”
One question this year is whether enrollment will actually go down since some healthy people may simply not enroll. State officials say they’re hoping to keep enrollment through the exchange at just over 100,000 this year -- which is to say they’d like to maintain their numbers, if not grow them.