With the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, almost over, there is still widespread uncertainty about the law and precisely what it does. This uncertainty is particularly true for the previously uninsured, many of whom are now dealing with a complicated set of insurance terms they have never previously encountered. With the individual mandate set to penalize those who do not sign up for Obamacare insurance by March 31st, this is a key time to learn everything you can about this transformative law. In this video, health care analysts David Williamson and Michael Douglass explain the three key terms investors and consumers should know about Obamacare: the metal plans, the individual mandate, and the so-called “death spiral.”
Metal plans help consumers understand the so-called actuarial value of their plan, or what percentage of essential health benefits their plan covers. The lowest actuarial value plans are bronze, followed by silver, gold, and platinum. The death spiral refers to the fear that the final insurance pool for 2014 may be less healthy than insurers had anticipated, causing them to lose money and thereby raise premiums next year. Michael and David consider the two main issues with the death spiral argument. The individual mandate, or the law’s requirement that all individuals get insurance or face tax penalties, has consistently been the least popular aspect of Obamacare, but hospitals, including large for-profit operators Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC) and HCA Holdings (NYSE:HCA), are poised to benefit. See the video to find out why.