President-elect Donald Trump says he will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a national health care reform measure also known as Obamacare.
“On day one of the Trump administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare,” information on Trump’s website says.
So what do his plans mean to local residents who buy or want to buy health insurance on the federal marketplace?
The first thing they should do is not panic, Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Glause said last week.
People can sign up for such health insurance coverage now through an open enrollment period, he said.
He encouraged people to continue to buy health insurance on the exchange. They have until Dec. 15 to buy policies for coverage that would start Jan. 1.
Any repeal could not happen immediately, Glause said.
“The open enrollment and rates have been set for 2017, and, in my opinion, it would be a slow unwinding. I don’t foresee it happening before the first of the year,” he said.
Mike Fierberg is a regional spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Denver. He said people who need health insurance should continue to buy through the Affordable Care Act.
“The law is still in place. If they don’t enroll now, they may have no coverage,” he said.
“Here’s our position on this: We don’t speculate on what might or might not happen. We operate with the law as it is now. We encourage anyone who doesn’t have another form of coverage to enroll as soon as possible so they can get coverage Jan. 1.”
The federal law offers substantial subsidies for consumers that will reduce the cost of premiums they have to pay.
“We are operating as business as usual unless the Congress changes things. Nothing has changed and won’t change during the current administration,” he said.
Open enrollment continues through Jan. 31, but people must sign up by Dec. 15 if they want coverage starting Jan. 1.
Tracy Brosius is director of operations for Enroll Wyoming, an effort to encourage state residents to sign up for coverage.
“We are open for business. We are currently doing our community outreach in open enrollment,” she said.
Enroll Wyoming follows a business-as-usual approach now as the Affordable Care Act remains in effect.
“As of today, legally nothing has changed,” she said. “We want to make sure that consumers are cautious to remember that the individual shared responsibility payment is still effective under current law.”
That means that people who can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it must pay a fee.
Those who have insurance must continue to pay their premiums, she added. Although Trump has called for change, legally nothing has happened yet.
“We don’t want people falling through the cracks” and having to pay a penalty because they don’t have insurance, Brosius said.
Wendy Curran is a spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming. The insurance company is the only one in the state that sells health insurance policies on the federal exchange.
Curran could not comment last week about the direction the Affordable Care Act will take in the new administration.
“I don’t think we at Blue Cross Blue Shield know enough to give a comment,” Curran said. “It’s too early to have any sense of what will happen.”