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Dear Fellow Pennsylvanians,
This wait to find out what the health insurance marketplace rates will be here is killing me. And by killing, I mean repeatedly provoking my impatient self. Every time I think about it — which is often — the knot of not-knowing frustration in my stomach gets a little tighter.
If everyone didn't know, it would be one thing. But other states — states that are doing their own marketplaces and not waiting for the federal ship to come in like Pennsylvania is — keep announcing their rates, and analysts keep analyzing them and trying to extrapolate results. And I just keep having to write: "Their variables are not ours. We just have to keep waiting, probably until September — and by the way, have you noted how close September is to The First Marketplace Day Itself, Oct. 1, 2013?"
Things are bad.
Therefore, I propose a distraction campaign. Here are some activities that may help keep your mind off how long you've been waiting and how important the information is and how very much you wish the rates would just materialize on your desktop.
• Study the HHS report that — based on released rates — "finds premiums in the Health Insurance Marketplace will be nearly 20 percent lower in 2014 than previously expected." Share your thoughts on the subject.
• Urge the student developer in your life to create Web-based tools or mobile applications that enrich the health care consumer experience — and then enter them in the nationwide Blue Innovates contest. Mention the $30,000 in prizes.
• Read "Apple is suddenly really interested in health tech." Find an audience and monologue on whether or not Apple could solve health care and why.
• Peruse the President's July 18 speech on health care.
• Keep a running tally of the number of times you see the marketplaces referred to as "exchanges," which ... OK, yeah, I've probably beaten that poor quadruped to death. If you're a regular reader, you should understand why I'm suggesting bonus points for federal references. If you're not a regular reader, take my word for it that you should be thankful that I have sort of refrained from airing my pet peeve.
• See if ValuePenguin has added any more states to its ACA State Exchange Comparison. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were just five.
• Sign up for a free Affordable Care Act 101 weekly webinar series from the Small Business Administration and Small Business Majority . Each Thursday from now until the public insurance marketplaces open on Oct. 1, SBA representatives "will walk through the key pieces of the law so that small business owners can understand the facts and make the most informed decisions they can about providing health insurance for their employees."
• Debate whether the rates would have been available sooner if Pennsylvania had created its own marketplace. If you're arguing that they wouldn't have, you'll probably want to mention Utah, which in January received approval for a state-run marketplace but by May had changed gears and now plans to run only the SHOP marketplace and let the feds run its individual marketplace. I think there may be some other similar examples, but I'm not finding them at the moment, and I'm too impatient to spend any more time looking for them.
• Track the progress of the federal movements on the PPACA — for example, the U.S. House's passage last week of legislation that would delay the individual mandate. Or the budget negotiations on funding for the various parts of the law. Contact all of your representatives and share your perspective.
• Write down why you want to know the rates, and what you're going to do with the information. Email your answers to me.
I wish you success.