For all the sound, fury, green eggs and ham in Washington this past week about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), you might think the nation is about to be irredeemably committed to the details of the new federal health-care law and is headed straight over that cliff today.
That’s not true. Congress made the ACA back in 2010 and can unmake or change any part of it whenever there are enough votes to make a change.
It’s true that despite all the talk, including Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz reading the Dr. Seuss book "Green Eggs and Ham" on the Senate floor as part of 21-hour pseudo-filibuster, today is a big day for the new law.
But it’s only one of the law’s big days, and it marks a start, not an end.
Today, Americans who are eligible can begin signing up for health insurance plans offered by private companies on online insurance "exchanges" unique for each state. They can find out details about what those plans cover and how much they’ll cost.
Pretty much, the sun can be expected to come up again Wednesday, and life on Earth as we know it will continue.
Coverage under the plans begins Jan. 1, and the open enrollment period lasts through March. In later years, open enrollment is set Oct. 5 to Dec. 7.
The law requires everyone to have coverage or face a financial penalty, which will be small initially but will grow in later years.
Gov. Rick Perry and like-minded officials adamantly refused to open an ACA state insurance exchange in Texas, so under the law the federal government will fill that role.
The web address for the exchange will be www.healthcare.gov, and there’s much helpful information on that same site.
North Texas consumers will have 43 plans to choose from. Average premiums in Texas start at $211 a month, but federal subsidies can drive that cost down significantly based on individual circumstances and specific plans. Generalities on cost are almost impossible.
Arguments that the ACA will bring about an abundance of ills probably will continue. Congress might eventually start talking about solutions rather than problems.
But those issues won’t be resolved today.
What will happen today is Americans will be able to find out more about what the law means to them.
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