America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is bringing thousands of jittery people together this week in Salt Lake City.
AHIP, Washington, is set to start its two-day Institute 2012 annual meeting in Salt Lake City Thursday. The health insurance company trade group is offering one-day add-on conferences today.
The sessions are taking place as insurance company executives, consultants, brokers and others with an interest in U.S. health policy are making desperate efforts to practice self-calming techniques while waiting for the Supreme Court to rule -- or decide not to rule -- on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
The court ruling could appear as early as 10 a.m. EDT Thursday, while health technology executives are supposed to be appearing in a general session panel on the intersection of science, technology and health care delivery system transformation.
The court could kill some, part or none of PPACA, or it could decide that issuing any ruling on PPACA is premature and simply push the day of reckoning off into the future.
Many of the AHIP speakers have tried to start preparing their presentations months ahead of time. The court ruling could put some of the sessions in an entirely different light and instantly make some of the topics discussed obsolete.
One of the add-in conferences taking place today is a conference on implementing PPACA, and another is on setting up exchanges, or Web-based health insurance supermarkets.
The ruling could affect whether the attendees at the PPACA compliance event end up moving ahead with current efforts to respond to PPACA medical loss ratio (MLR) and rate review rules, speed up MLR and rate review projects, or revise the projects to adapt to a world where PPACA mostly continues to apply but individuals will no longer face PPACA provisions requiring them to buy a minimum amount of health coverage.
PPACA calls for states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work together to set up a exchange system by 2014. The PPACA exchange system would help individuals and small groups use new tax subsidies to buy coverage.
If the Supreme Court killed all of PPACA, the PPACA exchange program could disappear.
But companies such as eHealth Inc., Mountain View, Calif. (Nasdaq:EHTH), and Word & Brown, Orange, Calif., already operate private exchanges that would continue to exist in a PPACA-free world. The AHIP exchanges conference includes sessions on topics such as how consumers use the existing private health insurance exchanges.
In the afternoon -- a few hours after the time when the Supreme Court would post the PPACA ruling, if it posts the ruling tomorrow -- Paul Begala and Ari Fleischer will talk about the 2012 elections. The court could give them a great deal to talk about or leave them and their listeners practicing self-calming techniques for a few more days.