18 states have decided to run their own health insurance exchanges. In California, the exchange will be known as Covered California. The federal government will run exchanges in Tennessee and 26 other states. Image Credit/State of California
Nashville-based HCA says its doubtful one of the pivotal parts of the Affordable Care Act will start by a federal deadline. The nation’s largest for profit hospital company has been reluctant to talk about healthcare reform, but brought up state health exchanges at an investors conference in Orlando today.Insurance exchanges are supposed to help people who don’t have coverage find affordable options. They’ll also do other things, like tell health insurance companies what they’re required to cover in particular plans. The federal government will run exchanges in Tennessee and 26 other states. While they’re supposed to start enrolling customers in October, HCA Chief Financial Officer Milton Johnson says he’s not so sure.
“We don’t think the plans will necessarily be ready, will the exchanges be functioning fully. So it may take two, three, four years for the exchanges to be fully ramped up.”
Johnson says he expects many small businesses and low-wage employers to end their health coverage, effectively dumping workers into the exchanges. Even if that occurs-and no matter how long it takes to start the exchanges-Johnson says HCA will likely see an increase in revenue, as more uninsured Americans get coverage.
A report from the Congressional Budget Office released last month estimates that around seven million people will buy insurance from the exchanges in 2014, with that number tripling over the next decade.