One of the key components of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, requires the creation of health insurance exchanges. These exchanges—which the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has begun rebranding as marketplaces—will enable individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance policies subject to certain requirements, and will provide those consumers who meet income-based thresholds with tax credits to make the insurance more affordable.
The exchanges are expected to be operational in each state on October 1, 2013, whether or not the state is participating in their creation or operation. The policies sold on the exchanges will not take effect until January 1, 2014 at the earliest. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 6 million people will acquire exchange coverage in 2014. The effect for occupational therapy practitioners and consumers is that millions of previously uninsured people will soon be insured by policies that include coverage for occupational therapy services. AOTA has partnered with state occupational therapy associations to ensure exchange plans cover occupational therapy services, including rehabilitative and habilitative services. We will continue to do so as exchanges evolve in the coming years. For more information, please refer to the resources below.