The year from which we are now stumbling nervously away was tricky for health insurers with a nostalgic fondness for commercial health coverage, painful for many producers in the individual and small group health insurance markets, and lucrative for anyone who got paid to explain Federal Register documents to benefits administrators and health insurance company executives.
Employers and their benefits advisors were starting to feel the effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and get a whiff of what might transpire in 2014, when major PPACA provisions are supposed to go live, but the 2012 changes weren't really that transformative.
We've been waiting for the U.S. health finance system to go through a major reorganization since the mid-1990s, when trial lawyers and regulators went to work on the HMO care utilization managers.
In 2012, prices went up a little more slowly, the enrollees got a little older and a little grayer, and consumers reported having a little easier time getting access to health care.
We'll start 2013 in about the same state we were in a year earlier: Waiting for the reorganization.