President-elect Donald Trump has promised that he’ll ask Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Day One of his administration. If you’re shopping for coverage on the health insurance marketplace, should you even bother signing up? If everything’s going to change shortly after your new coverage starts in January anyway, what’s the point?
While it’s impossible to know exactly what changes are coming to the individual market and how soon they’ll arrive, one thing is virtually certain: Nothing will happen immediately. Here are answers to questions you may have.
Q. How soon after Trump takes office could my marketplace coverage change?
It’s unlikely that much, if anything, will change in 2017.
“It’s a complex process to alter a law as complicated as the ACA,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University. It seems unlikely that congressional Republicans could force through a repeal of the law since Democrats have enough votes to sustain a filibuster blocking that move. So Congress might opt to use a budget procedure, called “reconciliation,” that allows revenue-related changes, such as eliminating the premium tax credits, with simple majority votes. Yet even that process could take months.
And it wouldn’t address the other parts of the health law that reformed the insurance market, such as the prohibition on denying people coverage if they’re sick. How some of those provisions of the law will be affected is still quite unclear.
“It will likely be January 2019 before any new program would be completely in place,” said Robert Laszewski, a health care industry consultant and long-time critic of the law.
The current open enrollment period runs through January 2017. Shop for a plan, use it and don’t focus on what Congress may do several months from now, Rosenbaum advised.
Q. Will my subsidy end next year if the new administration repeals or changes the health law?
Probably not. Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, said on the campaign trail that any changes will allow time for consumers receiving premium subsidies to adjust.
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