Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, or ACA (but better known as Obamacare), will kick off for its second year in only three weeks from now. Of course, things will be a lot different this time around. Insurers and the federal health exchange,, have a year of experience under their belts, so the expectation is they’ll be better equipped to handle an influx of enrollees. In addition, the enrollment period itself is a lot shorter, lasting just three months this year, compared to six months last year.

Also, the penalty for violating the individual mandate and not purchasing health insurance has gone up, with an individual responsible for paying the greater of $325 or 2% of your annual income. The $325 minimum penalty is a full 242% higher than in 2014, and will act as an extra incentive to get procrastinators enrolled.

But, in some ways a lot of things have stayed the same. The approach to purchasing health insurance will remain the same, with individuals being able to compare plans side by side in a transparent manner. The number of health plan participants is also expected to rise in a number of states, with companies like UnitedHealth Group , which sat out much of 2014 in many states, announcing its entry into a number of markets. In other words, consumers may find even more plans to choose from in 2015 compared to last year.

The classic conundrum of how health providers can achieve higher quality while lowering costs and delivering customer value will be explored Nov. 6 at the sixth annual Crain’s Health Care Leadership Summit.

CEOs from six organizations will talk about changes in health care, and how they impact employers, providers and insurance companies.

In a panel discussion, CEOs Nancy Schlichting of Henry Ford Health System, Gene Michalski of Beaumont Health, Joe Mullany of Detroit Medical Center and Rob Casalou of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals will give their views on how health care business consolidation and clinical integration with physicians and other providers are improving quality and lowering costs for their organizations.

Keynote speaker Joe Flower, an author and health care futurist, will begin the day at the Shriners Silver Garden Events Center in Southfield. He will speak about how the forces of change began years before legislative health care reforms came through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Driven by decades of double-digit medical inflation and ever-higher prices to employers and patients, the health care delivery and insurance financing system is ultimately moving toward greater consumer shopping with assistance by price and quality transparency, Flower argues.

The Affordable Care Act has increased the pace of delivery change and radically cut the uninsured rate, but longer-range forces already underway are changing how patients purchase health care services and how providers compete for business, he says.

“If we change the way we pay for health care so that providers compete for our business on price and quality like other businesses do, prices will drop to well below today’s median price,” says Flower, author of Healthcare Beyond Reform: Doing it Right for Half the Cost.

After his 25-minute keynote, Flower will moderate a panel that will react to the changing health care system trends and regulations promulgated by the Affordable Care Act.

Analysts are curious to see how insurers are going to further educate the public about the Affordable Care Act. Senior vice president of Radius GMR, Kathleen Relias, noted that “[o]verall satisfaction was stronger among those enrollees who reported receiving adequate explanation of ACA coverage,” and that “[o]nly 44% of Americans feel they are well informed.” We’ve already seen WellPoint taking the initiative in the culturally diverse state of California and advertising on TV, the web, and in print in multiple languages. The question is will other insurers in different states follow suit with unique ways of reaching currently uninsured consumers?

3 Responses

  1. Sheriff: 2 shot outside NC courthouse, 2 sought | Flower Delivery

    […] Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare into its uncertain second year Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, or ACA (but better known as Obamacare), will kick off for its second year in only three weeks from now. Of course, things will be a lot different this time around. Insurers and the federal health exchange, … Read more on The Westside Story […]

  2. Sally Yeo

    Only a hyper-partisan idiot would defend this Obamacare mess, which is why nearly all Democrats running this year are avoiding talking about it.

    Health insurance should be like car insurance and should kick in when there are major problems. Can you imagine what an oil change would cost if it was covered under your auto insurance? You don’t bill your car insurance for oil changes or little scratches in your car’s paint job.

    Also – unlike the gov website, auto insurance sites actually work! I pay $24/month for car insurance at Insurance Panda. With healthcare dot gov, it takes me hours to get an unaffordable BS rate. Who can afford $600/month insurance?

    All in the plan. Problems at the end so more can say they tried but couldn’t so now anyone can get an extension, further helping enrollment numbers. Add this to the 38 changes made to the law since passage, the joke continues. But, it’s the law of the land and cannot be changed!!!

    • Kn Black

      What is your solution? ACA is a law that was put together to have problems, by the other partisans against every thing group in congress. The American for profit Insurance / for profit health care system is the most expensive in the world. The main part of ACA was removed in it’s creation because it made insurance competitive, the public option, by our dear for profit insurance/health care providers. Before the ACA, health issues was one of the major causes for bankruptcy in the US. Bankruptcy is a cost that effects everyone by passing costs to the rest of us. Before ACA my family was paying over $14K for a policy that didn’t kick in as you say for anything but catastrophic coverage. It paid nothing for anything and cost more then any other single expense we had. Then if we would have a health issue we would be kicked out because we cost to much. The ACA is a flawed law caused by partisan bickering, but it is better then the screwed up system without it. I’m tired of seeing insurance execs driving B’mers and I’m driving a rusted out pickup. Come up with a solution instead of just get rid of it. One solution would be to have both parties try and fix our health care system for the average guy and quit giving the “for profits” more giveaways.


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