Tuesday is a day that opponents of the Affordable Care Act hoped would never come. On that day, Americans begin enrolling in health plans under the controversial health care law.
Oct. 1 is also an anxiety-producing date for the law’s supporters. Those who want the law to succeed must ensure sign-up goes smoothly — or risk alienating the consumers they need to enroll.
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What is the Affordable Care Act?
The law’s aim is to provide comprehensive and affordable coverage to as many of the nation’s 47 million uninsured as possible.
How does it do that?
First, the law requires virtually every American to buy insurance or pay a tax. Secondly, the law prohibits insurers from denying coverage to people who are already sick and restricts various practices, such as charging healthy older people significantly more than healthy younger people or women more than men.
What is the exchange or marketplace?
It is an online portal where Americans in every state can look up, compare and enroll in insurance plans available in their community. Those who already have affordable health coverage, such as through an employer, don’t need to worry about the marketplace . It is primarily designed to offer small business and individuals, who haven’t been able to take advantage of group rates, a better price.
To find your options, go to healthcare.gov.
What if I think I may need help enrolling?
What are some the changes under the health care law?
- Young Americans, up to age 26, can remain on their parents’ insurance plan.
- Insurers can no longer set lifetime maximums on how much they will pay for an individual’s care.
- People who have pre-existing illnesses cannot be refused coverage.
- Women can no longer be charged higher rates than men.
- Health plans must offer comprehensive coverage with minimum benefits set by the federal government. Things like maternity care, which were often left off plans, must now be included. And various preventive health screenings, like mammograms, have to be free.
Why do some people dislike the law so much?
Some argue that it is a massive overreach of the federal government. They say the law impinges on states’ rights and an individual’s right to choose not to buy insurance.
There are also political reasons: the law is the signature legislative achievement of President Barack Obama.
chat with our experts
Washington correspondant Laura Green and health reporter Stacey Singer will answer your questions about the Affordable Care Act.
Noon Monday at palmbeachpost.com
Send your questions about health reform to firstname.lastname@example.org