After several years of anticipation and a great deal of confusion over the Affordable Care Act, today marks the day that the insurance marketplaces – otherwise known as exchanges – begin enrollment for individuals not covered by employer insurance benefits.

In recent days and weeks, there has been additional confusion about what this all means with debates about defunding healthcare reform on Capitol Hill and the most recent shutdown of the federal government. So, we want to explain what this all means for you.

First of all, neither the current back and forth in Congress or the temporary government shutdown over the budget will impact the insurance exchanges. As the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this morning, “the marketplace is open for business.”

So what does it mean?

  • Beginning on January 1, 2014, everyone will be required to have health insurance, similar to how if you drive a car you are required to have car insurance,
  • If you are a full-time employee and already receive healthcare benefits from a program provided by your employer, you may choose that as the best option for you and your family because it is often a shared cost between you and your employer,
  • If you don’t have access to an employer-based insurance plan, you now have the option of accessing coverage through an exchange. The cost of such insurance will depend upon your unique financial situation.

We know that many individuals have remaining questions, so we have established a dedicated healthcare reform website for all Kindred employees and their families at http://ACAanswers.hcrmadesimple.com. As a Kindred employee, you should have recently received a flyer in the mail which included the password for this website.

For additional information, quick answers to common questions, and access to enrollment in an exchange, please visit the official HHS website at www.HealthCare.gov.

Federal Government Shutdown

In regard to the temporary shutdown of the federal government, this came to pass because Congress was unable to have a budget in place in time for the new fiscal year – which also begins on October 1. Without having a budget in place to fund non-essential government activities, Congress was also unable to enact a short-term stop-gap funding measure, commonly referred to as a Continuing Resolution (CR). A CR would have effectively provided a short-term extension of federal funding until a longer agreement for funding levels could be agreed to by Congress and signed into law by the President.

While the temporary government shutdown will impact some programs, it is important to understand that healthcare services for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries will not be disrupted, nor will Veterans Affairs health benefits.

At this point, it is unclear how long this shutdown will last. We will provide updates as the debate unfolds.