WASHINGTON - The goal of health care reform, according to the Obama administration, is to provide quality, affordable health care for every American while preserving what works in today's system, expanding choice, and containing costs.
In the first years, the Health Insurance Exchange is targeted to serve employees of small businesses, the self-employed and the uninsured. That means that tens of millions of Americans will be eligible to purchase the plan in the first year. The only place the public option will be available is in the 'Exchange.'
The public option will not be limited to just a few Americans; it will be available for purchase, from day one, by all Americans that are uninsured, self-employed, or work for a small employer with less than 26 employees. Also, that first year, even those who work for large employers will be eligible to purchase the public option plan, provided that their employers did not offer them an opportunity to participate in a plan through their jobs. The second year all of those just named, the uninsured and self-employed will still be able to buy the public option but it will also be extended to even larger small employers, including those with less than 51 employees. By the third year, small employers with less than 101 employees will be folded in, including all of the self-employed and all those uninsured.