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Navigating Affordable Care Act

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Under the Affordable Care Act health insurance is now required by law. Although there are some exceptions, a majority of the people in the United States will be required to have health insurance.

People who already have health insurance do not have to enroll. Jenni Black, Chief Administrative Officer with Family First Health in York says this is still a good time for those who are insured to figure out what they are paying out-of-pocket for health care.

So who does this affect?

People who are uninsured or under-insured.

“There are many, many people in the United States, tens of millions, who are uninsured or under-insured. It’s dangerous to be without health insurance. A catastrophic health condition or injury could put people into financial crisis,” said Black. “The goal is to enroll four-million people in this open enrollment period. That’s a big chunk. And this is brand new to everyone. There’s been nothing like this offered before in the United States. So people don’t know what their options are.”

Open enrollment begins October 1, 2013. The law provides a ‘Health Insurance Marketplace’ where individuals and small businesses can navigate the different plans and find what works best for them. “The marketplace has eight insurance carriers offering four different levels of plans. It depends on the consumers needs. They can select a plan, they may want a program with a low co-insurance amount, but that would give them a higher premium. And that’s what our enrollment counselors are going to help people decide,” said Black. “The amount people pay is based on family size and income.”

Family First Health is one of several federally qualified health centers in Pennsylvania to receive federal funding to educate the public on how to enroll.

“The enrollment counselors are there to help people and give a completely unbiased assistance on plans and carriers to help people find out what is best for them,” said Black.

Enrollment counselors can also help people navigate various tax credit programs available based on family size and income. “There is a tax credit where you can get some of the money back that you pay for your premium, after you file your taxes. There is also an advance tax credit program where you can get some of the money that you are paying towards your premium, at the time you are paying your premium,” said Black.

Open enrollment is from October 1 to March 31, 2014. Enrollment must be done by December 15 to receive coverage on January 1. “If people wait until January to enroll you won’t get insured until the following month,” said Black.

Other Changes:

There are also some changes that affects everyone, insured, uninsured and under-insured.

“Dependents up to age 26 can stay on their parents insurance,” said Black. “And you can’t be turned down for a pre-existing condition.”

Another change is an end to gender discrimination. “Women and men, there is no gender discrimination for premiums. In the past women have paid more,” said Black. “Another big change, preventative coverage is now free of charge. So pap smears, mammograms, immunizations for children, are all covered with no deductible and no co-pay.”

According to Pennlive

Links:

To log onto the Health Insurance Marketplace click here.

To speak with an enrollment counselor at Family First Health click here or call (717) 846-5846.