October 1

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Perhaps it is time that we lower the volume on the Affordable Care Act debate. 

The ACA is here. It will significantly impact nearly every American who is not covered under Medicare. Some of us will find our rates much higher; some of us will find that our policies are changing in ways that we don’t care for; others will find that our benefits or premiums are better then they were, or that we have access to plans that we have not had access to in years.

I don’t like major aspects of the ACA. But it just doesn’t matter any more, because on October 1 we will all know exactly how health care reform will impact us.

Well, maybe not on October 1st.

Do not be surprised to wake up Tuesday morning, turn on the news and hear that many United States citizens perhaps most citizens do not have access to the Exchange as long promised. Even in those states where an exchange is operational, do not be surprised to discover that many plans are not yet approved, and therefore not available for consideration. Do not be alarmed if the exchange websites are overloaded and difficult to maneuver through, or that the customer service people answering the phones cannot give complete answers.

And if this is the case, that neither spells disaster for the Affordable Care Act nor puts us in an untenable situation.

The ACA plans begin January 1, 2014.  Like everybody else, I am curious to see the new plans, prices, subsidies, and process. But there is no advantage in making my decision on October 1 instead of on December 1. Arguably I am better off making my decision later, when all plans are likely to be available, and when I have a better idea of what my 2014 needs will be.

My best advice is to treat October as a month to educate yourself about the new health insurance system, but that you do not rush into a buying decision. This is a time to be calm and thoughtful, even if Washington remains loud and irrational.