ACA: Open enrollment starts on Tuesday. Study first.

Tuesday — Oct. 1 — is the first day Americans can sign up for health care plans created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. If you’re not completely sure about what to do, don’t rush into it.

Coverage isn’t set to start until Jan. 1 and open enrollment doesn’t close until March 31, which means there’s plenty of time to make educated decisions about various health care plans.

If you already have health insurance through your employer, you are not required to enroll. With some exceptions, everyone else must buy health care insurance. While most uninsured people will have no choice about whether to enroll (unless they're willing to pay a fine), there are plenty of choices about what plan to enroll in.

Whether we love it, like it, are willing to tolerate it or just plain hate it, Congress has seen fit to make ACA the law of the land and we are subject to it.

This is, for lack of a better explanation, an “eat your spinach” moment for Americans. Health care coverage, like spinach, is good for us, but we’re not all enthralled with having either forced upon us.

Too bad politics, initially during the process to pass the ACA and then in the continued resistance to its existence, has made it so difficult to figure out what the ACA actually does.

There is so much misinformation swirling about the ACA that the average American can hardly be blamed for being tense about the choices they are about to make.

The misinformation started well before the bill even passed into law, and it continued most recently in multiple bits of fiction sprinkled through a 21-hour, 19-minute podium speech delivered by Sen. Ted Cruz — a former solicitor general in Texas — on the Senate floor.

In addition to reading "Green Eggs and Ham" aloud and admitting he really likes White Castle’s “little burgers,” Cruz freaked out spouses of UPS employees by saying they would be left without health care coverage (they will not) and created unnecessary hostility against the IRS by reporting its employees had asked to be exempted from the ACA (they have not).

But, then, the president himself — whose name has bled over to the title of the ACA, now often called Obamacare — hasn’t exactly stuck to the facts either.

While the president credits the ACA with bringing down the cost curve on health care spending, according to, “experts say the down economy is the overwhelming reason that national health care spending has been growing at historically slow rates in recent years.”

It’s understandable that the president would want to take credit for something the public demands, but he shouldn’t do that by sacrificing the facts.

If representatives of the executive and legislative branches can’t be straight with us about the ACA, it’s going to be awfully hard for the rest of us to sort it out.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 31 percent of Americans polled aren’t sure if the ACA even exists.

It does.

Over the past month, the Sun Journal has partnered with the Bangor Daily News on a project exploring the ACA and what it means to you, our readers.

We have answered your questions about what the act requires, what you need to do to enroll in the marketplace or other plans, and where you can go for more information. We have looked at the business implications of the ACA, and at the expansion of coverage, including who will now be covered and what health care services must now be offered, including free preventive screenings like blood pressure and cholesterol tests, colonoscopies, vaccines and other services.

Our project, which we have been calling Affordable Care Act 101, wraps up on Monday with an examination of how implementation of the ACA is different in Maine than in other states, and what that means to Maine families.

And, on Tuesday, the Lewiston Public Library will host an ACA Marketplace open enrollment event at 6 p.m.

Jake Grindle, a specially trained health marketplace “navigator,” will give video and verbal tutorials on how to apply for enrollment in the new health care plans.

This navigation session will be a good opportunity to get information about your personal situation. The Kaiser Family Foundation has also launched a subsidy calculator that helps you quickly figure out eligibility and cost.

We hope that through our series, coupled with Grindle’s session and the online calculator, we will all be able to make the best health care coverage decisions for ourselves and our families. And make the ACA spinach a little easier to swallow.

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JOHN PAINTER's picture

Millions Flee Obamacare

Millions Flee Obamacare, the frightening truth the government doesn't want us to know

FRANK EARLEY's picture

All I'm hearing are............

All I'm hearing are complaints up and down about how "ObamaCare" will destroy the country. How enacting this program will ruin everything as we know it. How we have all these people already waiting on lists, how people won't be able to afford health insurance. How expensive it will be to the taxpayers. The arguments go on and on. What I'd like to know is what's the big deal. From the sounds of it everyone must think the system we have now is working just fine. Evidently those thousands of people on waiting lists is just part of doing business. Why would anyone want to improve on that.
Just like Jonathan pointed out, its health insurance reform not health care reform. We need to change something if for nothing else, just to save lives. The Republican fight to cripple the ACA, is nothing more than political grandstanding. They could care less about healthcare. I'm sick of hearing these fools interviewed in TV, they are all saying almost the same thing word for word. To be quite honest, from Ted Cruz right on down the ladder. There's not one a one of them I would trust for the time of day. That's a sad situation................

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

And the democrats, they're

And the democrats, they're o.k. They've got it all right, is that it? They're totally blameless of the situation as is oBAMa. He adds new meaning to the term, "Nero fiddled while Rome burned".


I believe there will be a

I believe there will be a delay of some sort for this ObamaScare fiasco. Nevertheless, the choice between signing up for this and paying a $95 fine is a no-brainer.

The Dems are aiming for a

The Dems are aiming for a single payer system, the ACA is the first major step getting us there. For all you people who want the government taking care of you should remember this great quote by Henry Ford
“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him had better take a closer look at the American Indian.”

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Kudos, Dennis

Kudos, Dennis

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Just how do you guys do it??????

Do you guys do lottery numbers too, how about horse racing. You seem to be able to see into the future, a gift most of us would like, but evidently only you and Dennis possess. You seem to have knowledge of what the outcome is going to be even though this type of program has never been tried before. Improving the availability of health care, will increase the number of people seeking health care, which in turn will increase the competition for insurance coverage, which will keep insurance premiums at a minimum. Just look at the ruling today against Anthem, they were trying to benefit from our unexpanded Medicaid. They didn't expect any competition to favor the people they were trying to force into compliance. They were trying to screw their OWN customers. If thats not a clear example of what the ACA is trying to eliminate, nothing is.
The ACA could be a lot of things, then again it might be nothing. If we at least give it a try who knows, maybe it might work. Don't forget, color TV's were just a passing fad, Automobiles could never replace the horse. Or my personal favorite, I actually heard a big Boston executive say this back in the early eighties. Personal home computers will never make it in the workplace. their just to damn "Fangled", I guess we all showed him. When somethings never been tried before, nobody knows how it will work. If they did, they sure as hell wouldn't be telling us about it here, don't ya think??????????

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Convincing proof of the insanity of the Right

1. ACA provides health insurance reform not health care reform.
2. ACA does not let anyone be taken care of by the government. All the insurance is private. All the ACA does is create a market where consumers can choose to be informed about what they are buying without deceptive tactics.
3. All 300+ million Americans rely on the Federal Government to take care of them - in times of invasion, war, and insurrection. And while the Military is the least efficient agency of the Federal Government, its certainly done the job when called on.
4. Half of Americans receive a Federal checks (not including vendors and the military) and have for 70 some years and they are doing just fine.
5. Mr. Ford was many things - anti-Semite, racist, industrialist, visionary - and he was right on some thing and wrong on others. His opinion lends no authority to right-wing fantasies.
6. Wish Dems were trying for single payer it would be a remarkable improvement on the ACA, but as 2009 showed only loyal reasonable Democrats promote single payer in other words the Democratic base; the politicians hate it.
7. The only people trying to prevent this most important improvement in American life are people who hate Americans.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Oddly enough, Jon, that would

Oddly enough, Jon, that would be half the country.

# 7 shows your ignorance.

# 7 shows your ignorance. You are a dingbat for sure!

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Not surprised at your response

This shutdown and the debt debate to follow with be the death knell of conservative, temper tantrums. Cruz is right. This is about anger, frustration. Its an emotional outburst by people who haven't quite matured. Who yell "let him die".

The only ones talking about

The only ones talking about shutting down government are the dems, they are the ones with temper tantrums.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

first that's spin - a Republican talking point quite consistent

with Republican dishonesty. Dems are talking about it because Republicans are doing it. It is their announced strategy to include in the CR issues which they know can not pass the Senate or the President's desk. They are called poison pill provisions. Their only purpose is to shut the government down. Read the 2010 Maine Republican Platform - the intention is clear - shut the Federal Government down. During the 2012 Republican campaign Republican hopefuls including the eventual winner fought to see who would promise to shut down more of the Federal Government (even if Perry couldn't remember which parts). The Republican motto includes - smaller government. How do you get smaller government - you shut down parts of it.
So don't try to sell this BS.

Obama is the dishonest one.

Obama is the dishonest one. He said if you like your healthcare you can keep it. If the ACA is so great why has he has given out over 1200 waivers protecting the special people from it, just recently Congress & Senators including staffers.
They should have to live by all of the same rules as every other American does. Wake up!

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

You must have been in Washington sharing the booze

with your republican buddies yesterday.
Obama said you can keep you healthcare; and that's true. 1200 waivers. Please document. Another Republicans can't could. Republicans said that the IRS would hire thousands of new employees to enforce the Individual mandate inspite testimony that the IRS has no power to collect any individual penalties under the ACA and that the 5-10 billion dollar cost would go to developing computer systems not hiring people to enforce and unenforcible mandate. They still took the average pay of an IRS employee (total payroll divided by census of employees) divided it up into the multi-years cost of implementation and announced breathlessly that it would add thousands f new IRS employees. In other wods, they lied.
Then you descend into collosal oversimplification. "They should have to live by all of the same rules as every other American does. Wake up!" People don't live under the same situations; why should they live under the same rules. I'm not blind; why should I live under the same rules as a blind person. This is a land of equal opportunity. Each person's opportunity should be the same, not the results, and not the rules. I thought leveling ended with the 18th century. But you almost have it right. The laws are not the same and they do not have the same effect. The banks get bailed out rightly because their collapse would have and almost did leave people starving in the streets, but no one in those banks has been held accountible for the criminal acts that caused their collapse. Not a single banker has been tried for their crimes. Every bailed out bank should have had to turn over all assets to the Federal government not other banks and every executive over time should have been fired and those who made the decisions indicted. As any other American would have. If this is what you mean by the same rules then I'll agree with you.

Polticians should live by the

Polticians should live by the same laws we do. The way the ACA was passed did that. in regards to them, then they got Obama to take care of them with a subsidy. If Boehner was part of that, he's a hypocrit They are servants for us, we are not servants for them.Obama thinks he is a King, he's becoming more like a dictator.

Polticians should live by the

Polticians should live by the same laws we do. The way the ACA was passed did that. in regards to them, then they got Obama to take care of them with a subsidy. If Boehner was part of that, he's a hypocrit They are servants for us, we are not servants for them.Obama thinks he is a King, he's becoming more like a dictator.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Your words simple do match reality

Obama is not a dictator as the current shutdown amply proves. He's done nothing that is not expressly permitted the President and Commander and Chief by the Constitution. They are our servants but that assumes that we share a common set of beliefs. And that's not true given the Tea Party. They do not believe in the Constitution or in the methods and procedures of responsibile citizenship also as evidenced by the current shutdown and voting to repeal Obamacare 46 times. Because that common set of beliefs has been lost, representatives must exercise more of their individual judgement than a servant would. The Constitution specifically prevents representatives from living by the same laws as we do. For example, it prohibits changing their compensation during their term of office. In other words you can't change their pay or benefits until the first session of Congress after an election.

I don't have many beliefs in

I don't have many beliefs in common with Obama. The Tea Party is fighting for the constitution, while Obama is shredding it. As long as the phoney main stream news media looks the other way, he will continue to destroy America with his transformation of America. Using the IRS to target his political enemies is a example of just how corrupt he is.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Have you ever read the Constitution; if you had yu could

never write that the Tea Party is fighting for the constitution. But you facts are just so wrong and that's the fundamental problem. For example, "the IRS to target his political enemies". That's a conclusion not a fact. No facts support that conclusion since the IRS investigated everyone left and right. Everyone received the same questionaire. Te only thing the IRS did that was wrong as rule a single query with in appropriate keywords. But none of that has come out becuase the Republicans in the house have refused to release interviews with IRS employees that cofirm no targetting and because they edited the testimony of those who tried to make the opposite case.
Sir, a dream world of fantasy and gullible adoption of propaganda does not make fr rational conclusions.
By the way under the ACA Congressmen were exempt from the ACA from the beginning because they had an employer's insurance program that met the criteria and as you said Obama said that no one would lose their current insurance.

Investigated everyone left

Investigated everyone left and right? Are you serious? I watched all of the hearings and facts are hundres of tea party org were targeted, where only a handful liberal leaning groups were. The liberal leaning groups all got thru quite easily , where as the Tea Party groups were continuelly harrased. The IRS lady in charge of it pleaded ther fith, which proved to me she was had something to hide.Your the one who lives in lala land.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

"The IRS lady in charge of it

"The IRS lady in charge of it pleaded ther fith, which proved to me she was had something to hide." While I'll agree that's the impression taking the fifth gives; that's a completely false conclusion. She took the fifth because that's what her attorney recommended as you would have recommended if you were in that position.
The hearings were designed to mislead you. Hearings present only the "persecutor's view. People who do not support the chairman's view are not called. The minority asked repeatedly that all the IRS witnesses be called. They weren't. The minority repeatedly asked that all the interviews of IRS personnel be released by the Chairman to the press. They weren't. The minority asked that the logs from the IRS group in Cincinnati be released they weren't. The only things you saw with the hearings was what Chairman Issa wanted you to see and hear. Issa just released a report on the investigation. Recommendation for prosecutions - Zero. Recommendations for discipline - Zero. Recommendations for changes in IRS procedures - Zero. Recommendations for new laws to reign in IRS abuses - zero.
The IRS did what it was required by law to do - qualify groups for special status and deny those whose operations were primarily political that special status. Any Tea Party group that asked for that status was committing fraud because they knowingly were not qualified just as any liberal group which intended to involve itself in campaigns was not qualified. The people involved in the IRS were all career civil servants. No political appointees were involved. The administration was never involved. The only political appointee in the IRS is the Commissioner who neither directed, pursued, or supported this effort at all (and was a Bush appointee). The only Washington people involved were again attorneys specifically charged with providing guidance on this very vague section of the IRS code. No scandal; no targetting of political groups on left or right.

Mark Wrenn's picture


And they would happily carry a rope past a drowning man.

I might take a walk by Harry

I might take a walk by Harry Reid with a rope if he was drowning.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I'd add more water.

I'd add more water.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

everything is in a name

everything is in a name


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