ACA Seminar 6Last week, Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant held an informational seminar on the Affordable Healthcare Act and how the implementation of the new law may affect people.

Nearly 30 people attended the meeting held at the Edward Plainfield Outpatient Center on Oct. 2 to learn more about the largest reform on healthcare in over 50 years and the coverage that is now being offered to the nearly 2 million Illinoisans without health insurance.

Attendees directed any questions that they had to A.J. Wilhelmi, a former state senator who is now a lobbyist for the Illinois Hospital Association.

The major thing that Mr. Wilhelmi stressed to the group was that all people who do not have some form of health insurance must enroll in the program by January 1. Many people do not understand that enrollment is mandatory for everyone who is uninsured and failure to enroll by the deadline will invoke a penalty.

 

The majority of attendees had concerns about the cost to care ratio. Wilhelmi explained that the new law was designed to drive costs down and is regulated to ensure quality care and serives. Getting more people insured will mean more preventive care and less uninsured emergency room visits, a practice that results in insurance companies hiking the cost of premiums for those who are insured.

Attendees were also concerned about how the healthcare exchange would affect those who currently hold insurance, whether that be private, employer provided, Medicare or Medicaid.  Wilhelmi assured the audience that those who already had some form of insurance did not have any enrollment requirements in the healthcare exchange.

Conversely, some attendees were curious about how employer-provided health insurance will compare to the options available on the exchange and whether they will be able to opt out of their employer-provided plan if they find better options on the exchange.

Wilhelmi suggested that persons interested in exploring this option first contact their company's HR department to determine whether their employer will allow employees to 'opt-out' of their plans.  Some companies, depending on the structure of their plan, may require you to pay into the company insurance.  If employees are given the option to 'opt-out' of their employers insurance, they may purchase insurance through the marketplace without a penalty.  A person would only be penalized if they opt-out of their employers insurance and do not obtain coverage through the marketplace or elsewhere.

People were also impressed to find out that the healthcare exchange does provide stand alone policies for things like vision and dental insurance that employers do not always provide.

Both Bertino-Tarrant and Wilhelmi stressed the importance of patience to the group and explained that anytime we build something from scratch there will always be glitches that need to be worked out.

The new law will help more than 400,000 Illinoisans gain quality health insurance over the next year. An additional 350,000 Illinoisans will be covered under Medicaid by 2015 as well.
To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, or to shop insurance plans, go to GetCoveredIllinois.gov, or call 866-311-1119.

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