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 factcheck.org, “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.
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.