Affordable Care Act
At the center of what led to the shutdown, the Affordable Care Act... A big part of it kicked in today. The "insurance marketplaces" are now open. "Even though the government shut down last night, the health insurance exchange still opened today. We talked to the experts and found the five things you need to know about Obamacare." First: today through December 15th is a shopping period; your actual coverage would begin January first. The online marketplace was supposed to open this morning so you could to look into different plans, however, it has been shut down all day due to "technical glitches". The second thing you need to know is if you don't have health insurance by March 31st, you will pay a $95 penalty to the IRS, or 1% of your annual income, whichever is greater. That will increase to a $695 fine or 2.5% of your income in two years. Third, through the healthcare marketplace you will have four different packages for most everyone to choose from, and a more limited plan for people under 30. A Navigator is a person in your area who can help you choose which package is right for you. Lauren Pollock is a Navigator Coordinator for the North Central Florida area. She says the plans vary by price. "The differences in prices are lower premium...higher out of pocket.. To higher premium lower out of pocket." The fourth thing to note is that all new health insurance policies have to cover ten essential benefits including preventative care, hospitalizations, ER visits and prescriptions. The final thing is for you to contact your employer to see if your company will be switching to a new plan, and also your doctors to see what plans they are on. We talked to Congressman Ted Yoho who says if you choose to enroll in federal healthcare with a Navigator once the system is running, there are questions you should ask before signing up. "Ask them if they're trained in an insurance agency, ask them if they're bonded, ask them if they're insured, ask them if they carry errors and omission insurance. And then ask them how much the government is paying them to sign people up." "While no one knows when the technical glitches will be solved, both sides agree that in the meantime you should be exploring all of your options."