The countdown begins with just a week before marketplaces open for healthcare. October 1st is the date for the federal market place or exchange will open and people can compare policies and costs before signing up for health insurance.
Chris Lillis - a Fredericksburg internist addressed a crowd about the Affordable Care Act. "For the first time, policies will be standardized," Lillis said at the informational meeting held at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg. "You won't have to read the fine print to see what's covered and what's not."
Botts, a longtime attorney with Rappahannock Legal Services, and a team of volunteers, will open a Fredericksburg office on Oct. 1 as well, and is also taking appointments. He encourages everyone to research options at healthcare.gov, and not to rush a decision.
Health insurance plans should cover certain things like - preventive care, prescriptions, hospital stays, mental care and blood tests. Botts feels people should research all the available options before taking any decision..
Those covered by Medicare or Medicaid or by their employer or by Tricare or may come under war veterans program will not need to bother about buying insurance as they will have an insurance cover. The 40 - 45 million Americans approx. 1 in 7 who are not insured will the ones to take heed.
The lowest income bracket will still be covered by Medicaid; an expansion of the program is under debate by legislators. Lillis said a large gap will remain, leaving millions of low-income adults with no affordable options in the meantime.
Those earning 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, can purchase cover through the exchange and, depending upon income, will receive a subsidy from the government. The tax credit, which will be based on current income will be paid directly to the insurance companies, can drastically reduce a person's premiums. For example, a family of four which makes $50,000 can opt for a plan that costs $924 per month.
Lillis acknowledged that every person's criteria would differ so the exchange would be open for months with navigators to help.
Coverage begins on Jan. 1, 2014, and there's a 15-day waiting period after a premium is paid before a policy starts. When you buy a policy by December 15th the coverage would begin by 1st January. The final deadline will be March 21st.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Katie Thisdell, September 2013