The official enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act's "transformative" health care reforms - aka Obamacare - goes into effect on Tuesday October 1.
Here's are the five biggest things you need to know.
1. Obamacare won't stop premiums from rising. Premiums were rising before the health law, and Obamacare isn't going to change that. The law's biggest effect will be in the individual market, where, for some people, plans are likely to be significantly more expensive than individual market plans were before the law — even, in some cases, after the application of taxpayer-funded subsidies.
2. Employers will drop benefits and reduce hours. Obamacare's rules forcing employers to cover employees working more than 30 hours a week will push some companies to trim hours and create more part-time staff. This is already happening, including one case where an Obamacare call center made sure its many of its workers were part-timers! It's likely that several million people will transition from their current employer insurance to the exchanges. Some estimates say the numbers could be even higher, which would mean that taxpayers end up shelling out for more subsidies.
3. Don't expect the exchanges to work smoothly. The administration has failed to hit many of Obamacare's implementation deadlines so far and its likely that the law's insurance exchanges aren't ready for primetime. Online enrollment is definitely being delayed in at least one state — Oregon. Reports are surfacing that the pricing mechanism isn't working right in the federal exchanges that will be running in 34 states.
4. Health care entitlements are still the nation's biggest fiscal problem. Over the next 25 years, federal spending on "major health care programs" is expected to rise from about 4.6 percent of the economy to about 8 percent. About a quarter of that rise is specifically due to Obamacare. More than anything else, federal spending on programs such as Medicare - and now Obamacare - is why spending patterns are unsustainable.
5. Don't expect the law to be delayed or defunded. Republicans in Congress have been making a big fuss to defund or delay Obamacare. But congressional options for killing Obamacare are slim right now. There are still some legal challenges in the works that could impair the law but the smart money is that most of the law's provisions go forward as scheduled.
About 2.30 minutes.
Produced by Nick Gillespie and Peter Suderman, who narrates, and edited by Joshua Swain.
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