As the approach of the new insurance exchanges nears, the State of Florida (which has decided not to set up its own insurance exchange) braces for the wave of inquiries it will receive about the new Affordable Care Act and how it will affect its residents. Florida opted not to set up its own exchange due to the high cost and complexity of setting it up.
Florida has been procrastinating regarding providing information for its residents about the new law and is waiting for that information from the federal government regarding which insurers will be participating in the insurance exchanges and how high the rates will be.
Based on government's filings, there are about 10 insurance companies which have applied to provide qualified health insurance plans in the new health insurance exchanges. The federal government is supposed to make a final decision about those plans by July 31, 2013, but no one really knows whether that information will become public before October 1, 2013, the date the exchanges will be open.
Part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is for the exchanges to hire "Navigators" - people who will work for the health insurance exchange marketplaces and handle outreach to the public. Most of those Navigators will specifically target low-income groups and second-language groups and those who have never had health insurance to try to help them figure it all out.
Open enrollment in the health insurance exchanges will begin on October 1, 2013 and run through March 31, 2014, but there is bound to be some setbacks and problems as more and more people try to obtain information through state and government channels, as everyone tries to figure out what is best for them.
If you already have Medicare or health coverage through your employer, you probably won't see a big change. For the 25% of the population that does not have any insurance at all, they will need to learn how to use the insurance exchange and determine whether they will be eligible for a tax credit to help make insurance affordable.
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be able to obtain employee coverage through the Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP). As more and more businesses access the exchange, the options will expand. Starting in 2016, employers wil up to 100 employees will be able to use the SHOP.