We’ve all been hearing that the Affordable Care Act will come online in 2014, so I thought I’d take a moment and read the bill text to see where ‘2014’ shows up. Turns out it shows up in a lot of places, actually: 164 different pages in the 906-page bill, by my count. But this, on a quick scan, seems like where 2014 rubber hits the 2014 road:
PART IICONSUMER CHOICES AND INSURANCE COMPETITION THROUGH HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGES
SEC. 1311. AFFORDABLE CHOICES OF HEALTH BENEFIT PLANS.
(b) AMERICAN HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGES.
(1) IN GENERAL.Each State shall, not later than January 1, 2014, establish an American Health Benefit Exchange (referred to in this title as an “Exchange”) for the State that
(A) facilitates the purchase of qualified health plans;
(B) provides for the establishment of a Small Business Health Options Program (in this title referred to as a “SHOP Exchange”) that is designed to assist qualified employers in the State who are small employers in facilitating the enrollment of their employees in qualified health plans offered in the small group market in the State […]
Then there’s the dreaded “mandate” — section 1501, starting on p. 124. It amends Chapter 48 of the Internal Revenue Code, in part, as follows:
(b) SHARED RESPONSIBILITY PAYMENT.
(1) IN GENERAL.If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) for 1 or more months during any calendar year beginning after 2013, then, except as provided in subsection (d), there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual in the amount determined under subsection (c).
I read that to say that you need to have coverage (“minimum essential coverage,” as it happens — a term defined starting about halfway down on page 130 and extending for about a page) for every month of every year after 2013 — which would be 2014 and after, if I have my math right.
So that’s where 2014 comes from. When January 1, 2014 rolls around, Obamacare will be here to stay. By the time the midterm elections happen in November of that year, Obamacare will have spent 10 months rectifying one of our great national tragedies: that there are about 48 million uninsured Americans.