It seems as though the debate over President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, known by most as Obamacare, has been raging on forever. The time for talk is now over, as October 1, 2013 marks that date when health insurance marketplaces are launched. It is here where uninsured Americans will be able to go and shop for the healthcare that best suits their needs. There is still a lot of misinformation and outright lies circulating about the program right now, making it confusing for those who need to start shopping for healthcare. Here are a few things you need to know:
The insurance marketplaces will have “sticker prices” attached to each of their plans, but that is not really what you will have to pay. This is because almost half of the people shopping for healthcare will be eligible for tax credits that will offset the cost of health insurance. Household income, age and other factors will come into play in this regard, so don’t necessarily be sucked in by the sticker shock you see when you go shopping.
Old vs. New
Much of the opposition to the Affordable Care Act has come from those who are already insured and who feel that they will have to pay higher premiums when 2014 rolls around. This is actually akin to comparing apples to oranges, as the plans offered under Obamacare are radically different, and some would say more valuable, than many current plans.
Premiums Won’t Change
The vast majority of folks who are currently insured in the United States get their health insurance through their employer. These are the people least likely to notice any kind of change once Obamacare kicks in. Most companies that offer this type of health insurance meet the standards required under the new law and will therefore need to make no changes of any kind.
Prices Across The Country Are Wildly Different
One of the biggest concerns about the potential pricing of the insurance was the wide disparity in pricing offered by different companies within the same region. There is an expectation that different states would have different rates, but when those differences occurred at a regional level, red flags were raised. The main reason for the disparity usually boils down to how small the network of providers is under a specific company. Those that have a smaller network are obviously going to have a different rate than those whose network is huge.
Out Of Pocket Costs
The ACA has a cap in place to ensure that out of pocket expenses do not go beyond a certain rate ($6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families), but since some plans use different companies to administer their benefits, those caps could be in place for doctor, prescriptions and hospital care, essentially doubling or tripling the out of pocket expenses. The government is delaying that provision for many plans for another year until those wrinkles are ironed out.