The federal government may have shut down but according to officials, health care exchanges were buzzing Oct. 1 as insurance-hungry consumers swarmed the online marketplaces.
News reports said Healthcare.gov and other sites were overwhelmed by traffic – which seems to imply that audiences will be receptive to more Affordable Care Act news coverage in the near future, as well.
First, as a resource you may not have seen, here is Politico’s primer on the Affordable Care Act; it’s pithy and deciphers some political aspects of the law.
Accountants. My informal quest to gauge public savvy re Obamacare has resulted in a frequent conversation closer: “Oh well, I’ll let my accountant figure it out.” This is apropos of whether consumers would do better selecting bronze or silver plans, or whether self-employed people would be better purchasing as individuals or under their business entity, or any of the myriad other as-yet-unanswered questions. Between that and the existing tie of Affordable Care Act mechanisms to income tax returns (subsidies, etc. based on filing status and AGI while non-compliance penalties collected via the Internal Revenue Service) it seems that accountants, enrolled agents and others well-versed in the art of interpreting federal law might see a spike in demand for their services in coming months.
“My informal quest to gauge
public savvy re: Obamacare
has resulted in a frequent
conversation closer: ‘Oh well,
I’ll let my accountant
figure it out.’ ”
I haven’t found much evidence from the industry yet, although the Fiscal Times reported back in June that both individual preparers, accountants, lawyers and firms like H&R Block expected a boost in business from the new health care law.
This is a double-barreled angle you can work with: The industry story itself is rather intreresting, and in addition to profiling firms and how they are responding to the implementation of the health care exchanges, you can look for spin-off businesses, like consultants and trainers; here’s one advertising the Obamacare Bootcamp for accountants, lawyers and insurance agents. (It offers tips on “how to get invited to speak to organizations like Rotary” and “how to get businesses to pay $500 for a strategic plan” ) — clearly some see the new policy as a way to make a buck.
Meanwhile, cultivating professionals in the accounting and tax prep arenas is a good path to finding real consumers — you can ask the professionals to share the most challenging scenarios they are hearing, as well as case studies that your audiences can relate to, and to connect you with the real consumers in question for some informative stories with the human-interest component. I was fascinated, for example, at the array of questions and scenarios readers posed in response to the New York Times’ insurance exchange primer over the weekend; clearly there are circumstances and scenarios out there that ACA authors may not have envisioned or provided for.
Another angle is investing. The effect of this stage of ACA implementation on the profitability of the health care sector is being debated; CNN just reported that some insurers shares have doubled in value since Obamacare was signed into law; and InvestorPlace blog post talks about the effect of the new law on a processing services provider and NASDAQ reports that “health care stock gurus are buying.”
You might want to take a look at the share-price performance of publicly traded health care firms in your area, and/or just use the investing premise as a launchpad for a discussion with their execs and investor relations staff about how the Affordable Care Act will translate financially.