Employer based health insurance originated during World War II, with the wage controls - companies needed to attract quality workers, said Dr. John Rugge, chief executive officer of Hudson Headwaters Health Network.
"And what transpired was that employers liked that benefit, it served them well, and the insurance companies really liked it," Rugge said Thursday at a public forum on health care reform. "And so most every president since that time has said, 'How do we find a way expand or replace private insurance, or even build upon it?' And it took this long."
All the while health care executives are preparing for the changes in the marketplace as President Obama's health care reform takes off on 1st January 2014.
"It's the law of the land now," said Dan Colocino of Rose & Kiernan Insurance, at the forum at Queensbury High School auditorium.
"The exchange -- it's basically an online shopping system," Rugge said.
In New York, the exchange will be ready by Oct. 1, and people will be able to buy health insurance policies which take effect on Jan. 1.
"The information is in place. The employees are there," Colocino said.
When people type in the name of their primary care physician, a list of plans -- at various prices levels - in which the physician participates in will show up.
The insurance companies which offer the plans will be, usually familiar names to most, Colocino said.
"It is going to be the usual ones you know and no one loves," he said.
Purchasers, under certain income guidelines, may benefit from federal subsidies toward the premium.
The goal is that practically everyone will be covered by some type of insurance plan, Rugge said.
Those who do not buy insurance should be prepared to pay penalties.
The hope is that quality of care for younger adults and children will improve once everyone in those age groups has health insurance, Rugge said.
Hospitals and physicians will see changes as the emphasis now will be preventive care. There are no guarantees about the success of the plan but a change has to be attempted.
"There are rays of hope within the legislation," said Paul Scimeca, vice president at Glens Falls Hospital.
"There's no way to fix 16 percent of the national economy and get it all right away," Rugge said.
The forum was sponsored by the Warren County League of Women Voters, the Adirondack Branch of the American Association of University Women, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Glens Falls.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Maury Thompson, 14th April 2013