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Published September 30 2013

Forum editorial: Exchanges the law of the land

In an ideal world, elements of the Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”), including health exchanges that go up and running today, would be delayed or scrapped. It’s not going to happen. Therefore, the best option for individuals and families is to access information to help negotiate the system. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, there is more than enough information and help out there by which eligible North Dakotans and Minnesotans can tailor a health care package that is supposed to be effective and affordable. Whether any of it will be a good deal for the nation – well, the jury is out.

The exchanges (state-run in Minnesota, federally run in North Dakota) offer levels of health insurance coverage. Costs depend on provisions of individual policies and on age and economic circumstances. Exchanges offer subsidies to specific categories of insured. And again, despite misinformation promulgated by opponents of the ACA, employees insured by employer-provided policies will not be forced into an exchange.

It would foolish to assume a program as big and diverse as the health care exchanges can go on line without glitches. Some states are not fully ready. Others have political climates that could make it difficult for their residents to understand options. But no matter the state-by-state circumstances, Obamacare exchanges are the law of the land, and will be for the foreseeable future.

The uncertainty and confusion caused by the uneven rollout of the ACA have been drags on the economy. Employers might have been hiring more people were it not for concern about Obamacare’s effects on costs of employer-provided health insurance. Investors and businesses that might have been creating jobs have been slow to do so in part because of the health care muddle.

At this point no one knows if the exchanges will deliver as promised by the president and other ACA advocates. No one knows if they will fail, as predicted by Obamacare antagonists. But today, an exchange is the only game in town for millions of uninsured Americans who want to be insured and don’t have other options.

For people in that category, it is imperative they go to online sites or to state and federal agencies charged with providing information. Find out what will work for you and your family; and given Obamacare’s rocky start, hope for the best.


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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.