UPDATE: Congress failed to reach a budget deal, and the federal government officially shut down at 12:01 a.m. on Tues., Oct. 1. Nonetheless, open enrollment for Obamacare is underway. Americans can begin to shop for health insurance on state-based and federally facilitated health insurance exchanges, as planned.
On Monday, the US government reached an impasse when the Senate rejected a House bill that would have delayed the Affordable Care Act for one year and another that would have delayed the individual mandate for one year. This is the first federal government shutdown in 17 years. We will continue to update this post with news of any impact the shutdown or its resolution may have on Obamacare.
In what seems a last-ditch effort to stop Obamacare, the Republican party has voted to shutdown the government following the fiscal year’s Sept. 30 closure, unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded. The Senate will vote today on a bill that would keep the government open through Nov. 15, but only if this demand is fulfilled.
With the Obamcare health insurance exchanges slated to begin open enrollment on Oct. 1, the same day the U.S. government could potentially shut down, many have concerns. Will Americans still be able to buy coverage? What will be the impact on the Affordable Care Act?
In short: very little, if any. Reuters reported Sept. 21 that “independent experts believe that ‘the effects of a government shutdown on the implementation of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) are likely to be pretty small” due to the way they are funded. A shutdown means the government can no longer spend money; however, the ACA is predominately funded through taxes and fees. Furthermore, the law would still stand, which means its provisions would also remain valid.
Click here for an infographic from The New York Times that explains what must happen to avoid a shutdown next week. Many believe it’s unlikely to happen. And, for the most part, the American people do not support it. Several polls have been conducted in the past few days, and they all arrive at similar conclusions: Americans oppose the government shutdown and they are prepared to blame both parties should one occur. According to a Sept. 24 post on NPR’s The Stump blog, 39 percent would hold Republicans responsible; 36 percent would point their fingers at the Democrats; and 17 percent would fault both parties.
Bottom line: It seems consumers can expect to go ahead with plans to start shopping state-based and federally facilitated health insurance exchanges for individual or family coverage, starting next week. Government shutdown or not. In the meantime, healthedeals.com will keep you informed about any potential issues with the new marketplace.
Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialties include health and fitness, wellness, sports and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventure. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA candidate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.