So the start of a new fiscal cycle of health care can always be a little rough – but for those of us lucky to have employee-sponsored plans of one kind or another, it’s definitely better than the alternative.

I am still recovering from spending more than a quarter of my meager monthly income during a “between jobs” experience to pay for continuation of a health care plan that really actually didn’t cover anything – and still had a deductible so high I could have bought a car with the same money – but you did what you had to do to stay afloat in pre-ACA America.

So, with 2014 here, has everything changed? Is there joy and jubilation in the streets as the disenfranchised are at long last offered opportunities to join in on the full range of health care services we office-worker types have enjoyed?

I’m going to be interested to see how this month – and the months to follow – play out in the traditional media, as you’ve seen what a fine job they’ve done of covering the debut (Horror! Confusion!) and the resolution (OMG! Huge numbers!) of the exchange technology issue. Health care is a hard topic to make sexy, as we all know, but at least it finally got mentioned on CNN.

You’re also starting to see a few more tangible and even marginally credible pieces detailing how those employees who are part of not-so-large coverage groups have found their premiums significantly increased. Or the folks whose insurers dropped them entirely, and then found themselves placed into a perverse limbo as the government quickly moved to try to un-renege on its promises.

I just wonder how much of it is really going to affect those of you in the standard, mid-sized employer world, in reality. You’re blissfully aware of the generalized trends for increases in health care costs, across the board, but will any of the ACA spinoff really impact your annual plan costs? Have you actually had to shift the responsibility for coverage costs to your employees, or did you do that long ago with a high-deductible plan?

I’ve spent a half year trying to offer elevator-ride-sized summaries of the good and bad of Obamacare to folks who know my job title and … at best, I can tell them that general health care costs will probably go up, but that if you’re an independent contractor, a low-wage employee or, best-worst case scenario, someone with a pre-existing condition, this year is not going to be so bad for you. It may be one of the best on record, in fact.

I’m looking forward to hearing your stories on the real impact of ACA in 2014. Share your thoughts in the comments. In the meantime, Happy New Year and … remember to take a close look at that HSA paperwork sitting around in your in-box. It might be important, after all.

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