The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) can be perplexing even to the most knowledgeable health care expert. The following website links provide an array of helpful information and data about the Act and how it is likely to play out over the course of the next several years.

United Healthcare’s website includes a timeline that tracks when different provisions of ACA kick in through 2015, as well as details and videos on how the Act affects such things as Essential Health Benefits, various employee health savings plans, and W-2 reporting requirements.

Cigna’s website offers a helpful summary of the key features of the Act, most specifically what roles employers, brokers and consultants, health care professionals, and individuals and families will play in this reform. Its site includes an interactive timeline through 2020.

The U.S. General Accountability Office in July released its analysis of 19 surveys and five microsimulation models—from sources as varied as the Congressional Budget Office and Employee Benefits Research Institute to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Federation of Independent Business—to determine the extent that employer-sponsored health coverage would change as a result of ACA. The results found very little consensus, but is useful information nonetheless. 

The accounting consultancy Deloitte recently surveyed 560 companies with at least 50 employees about the health care system and its costs. The results of the 32-item questionnaire offer some surprising findings, such as 69 percent of those polled graded the system an “A” or “B” for innovation, and 53 percent gave the same grades for access to services. And only a tiny fraction of larger companies intends to move employees into Exchanges.

Builder’s sister publication Remodeling has posted online a state-by-state listing of website links that provide helpful information related to ACA. For example, if you live in Texas, you can access links explaining Health Insurance Premium Grants, subscribe to the Texas Department of Insurance’s e-newsletter on consumer health, and get the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s take on how ACA will benefit Texas families. Remodeling’s columnist D.S. Berenson, a construction attorney, weighs in on how ACA could affect small businesses.

The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation provides remarkably detailed profiles of each state’s progress in setting up health insurance exchanges. These profiles include information about how exchanges are funded and what steps states still need to take to complete the process.

The October 2011 edition of Health Insurance Underwriter magazine, page 21, includes a year-by-year breakdown of how ACA will impact businesses through 2018. For example, in 2013 a new federal tax on fully insured and self-insured group health plans goes into effect to fund comparative effectiveness research programs; as does a 0.9 percent Medicare payroll tax increase on individuals earning more than $200,000, and a new 3.8 percent Medicare contribution from individuals with capital gains income over $200,000.

The tax implications of this Act are hard to ignore, and the government intends to collect every penny due. Check out the U.S. Treasury Department report, released in June, about the manpower needs of the IRS to meet the ACA’s compliance enforcement demands. That document includes a breakdown of the Act’s major tax provisions, and when they go into effect.

John Caulfield is a senior editor at Builder.