Passed in 2010 and largely upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, now seems, in the wake of the presidential election, to be a permanent fixture in the laws of the country.
There are several practical effects that this has on the nation. First, states will have to decide if they are going to establish health insurance markets where individual households and some small businesses can have access to a variety of health insurance plans. For states that don’t establish these markets, the federal government will need to do this so residents of those states will have access to a market. So far, it appears as if 17 states and the District of Columbia plan on establishing these healthcare exchanges.
For those individuals who do not qualify or cannot afford any of the private health insurance plans, the Affordable Care Act also provided for an expansion of Medicaid services. While the Supreme Court decision allowed states to choose not to implement the expansion, in states that do anyone who earns up to 133% of the federal poverty line can apply to Medicaid. This is scheduled to begin in 2014, but some states have adopted earlier expansions. It’s unclear what states will choose to opt out of the expansion, but Mississippi recently became the first, choosing not to include more people in the Medicaid coverage criteria.