The roll out of Obamacare will continue to dominate the headlines in health care and most likely politics in 2014, in what will be the first year of full implementation of President Barack Obama's signature legislation.
Obamacare enrollment will fall short
The lingering effects of the troubled rollout of HealthCare.gov may result in enrollment on the exchanges falling short of the Congressional Budget Office's estimate of 7 million people for 2014. Because some of those problems will stretch into the New Year, I think we'll see 4 million to 5 million people signing on for exchange insurance plans by the end of the open enrollment period in March.
January marks another big deadline for the federal health exchange. That's when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) must complete the critical financial management system. That's the back-end part of the site that reconciles enrollment numbers and subsidy payments for premiums to the insurance carriers.
(More predictions: Will the Grim Taper be a body blow to the wealthy?)
Well into December, CMS continued to deflect questions about whether the back-end of the system will be ready in time to process those payments.
Affordability could also impact total enrollment numbers. Health care providers worry that low-income patients who sign up may have trouble maintaining their payments, and could lose their coverage during the year.